It's funny. When you are in the “trenches” of life you don't realize how hard you are fighting your battle until you are able to put down the fight for a moment. When you have a moment of peace. It's in that moment you realize just how tight your grip actually was. Like when your knuckles are white from gripping something so tightly and feeling your fingers tingle once you let go.... You realize just how worn out you had become, and that "worn out" feeling had been your normal at one time. That is where I am. For today at least.When Dawson was diagnosed with autism 3 years ago, almost to the day, I was ready to start the fight. I was ready to fight WITH Dawson to help him through the tough stuff, and FOR Dawson when he wasn't able to fight. Maybe that's where you are today. If so, I want you to know that you are an awesome parent to an awesome kid!! What you do everyday is tough, it doesn't go unnoticed, and you are stronger than you think. Keep doing the hard work!! This hard work will lead to small victories that will add up to big victories!! Celebrate each victory. You've earned it!! I have a lot of friends, family, and acquaintances that ask me for advice for a parent they know that just found out their child has a diagnosis of autism, ASD, high functioning autism, or "on the spectrum". Although I don't have a degree specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder, I am an expert at navigating life as an Autism Momma. I know what it feels like to want your child to worry less about the silly little things, like the "Joker" car you haven't seen for 3 days but your son can't sleep until it's found and put on the shelf. I know what it's like to hope that your son with autism can make it through at least half of the football game his sister is cheering at without feeling so overwhelmed by the crowd & noise that he covers his ears and starts to melt down. I know what it's like when your son with sensory issues regarding his hands and feet gets a large splinter in his foot and would rather feel the pain of the piece of wood in his foot than possibly allow you to try to get it out for fear you will be touching his feet. I know what the grief process looks like. Although you didn't lose someone, you lost the dream or the idea of what you thought life might be like. So, as an Autism Momma expert my best advise is to find your connection. Find what connects you with your son or daughter. For Dawson and I, we connect through our trips to target & Starbucks as well as through reading books. While at Target we had to work hard to be patient, but we always turn it into an adventure. This is still one of his favorite things to do. It’s a great motivator for him AND it’s our time together. Plus, we get a new Pixar Cars car while we are at Target. Dawson didn’t always enjoy reading books. It wasn’t until I wrote & illustrated a book about the sweet connection Shae & Dawson had that Dawson began to enjoy books. It gave Dawson such a sense of self to see his illustrated cartoon self and read through the book. I have probable read that book 4,000 times and the cover has ripped. But, it is so worth it because I get to spend time with Dawson... Connecting. And sometimes connecting can feel like the biggest hurdle. My Mom, known by her grandkids as GG, connects with Dawson by building epic race tracks that are multiple stories or spending one on one time organizing and cataloging his entire collection of cars. Each one of us has a special way of connecting with Dawson. We do what he loves, even if it isn’t our favorite thing to do. It’s our way of investing time and showing Dawson how very much we love him... through our time connecting. These pictures are from a recent football game where Shae was cheering and Dawson was playing with cars. You can tell by his face that Dawson was having a blast, AND he stayed for the entire football game!! He even made a few friends and shared his cars. You see, he just wants to connect too. It took seeing these pictures to make me realize this.