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A Broken Healing

It’s dark now at 5:00 p.m. ¬†The chaos of the day winds down and the house gives out a low hum of acceptance. ¬†I sit in the vacated dining room. ¬†All home programs are finally finished.

The approaching Winter is the season I go inward for reflection and renewal. ¬†It’s a time of assessing. ¬†The internal fields are harvested and new hope is germinated.

The three children I gave birth to were diagnosed with autism. ¬†I’ve known this for ten years, and I’m still not over it. ¬†Tomorrow I will drive for an hour to visit a family I have never met in person. ¬†I’ll go alone, as this is a journey for me as much as for them.

My boys are my teachers on the real journey.  Unknowingly, they pluck triad chords of surprised joy in me.  Sometimes a vacant stare, a strange gesture, or a random word can be a shard of  pain.  My sons help me to remember, in the midst of making schedules, planning, structuring, coordinating with therapists and workers, that I must again deal with my insides even when the world insists upon my attention.  I also choose to run to demands I create rather than listen to myself.

He-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless (because he wants to keep his life private) just read the above. ¬†He mentioned my blog statistics and warned this post wasn’t very funny. ¬† “Where’s the hohoho and mistletoe, and pretty girls for the holidays? ¬†Hmmm?” ¬†I initially ignore his Peanuts reference, but HWSRN* has a point. ¬†The majority of ¬†“views” so far were on my funny¬†posts.

Like most, sometimes my life is not so funny.

My family will survive the holidays, as ¬†we have every year. ¬†And I will survive the holiday blues. ¬†We have learned to do Christmas with a light touch. ¬†We celebrate an Impressionist Christmas. ¬†Abbreviated visits to relatives with no travelling out-of-town work best for us. ¬†We decorate only a week before the big day. ¬†We keep the gifts down to a dull roar. ¬†We will especially be doing that this year. ¬†If there’s Some Assembly Required, we build before wrapping.

But I’m looking forward to a new year. ¬†I will try not to always look at my kids under the autism microscope. ¬†I will listen to myself. ¬†I will heal and then break, heal, and then break again. ¬†When young bones fracture, they are stronger after they mend than before they broke. ¬†My spirit is young; someday I’ll be a superhero. ¬†For now, I’m mom.

* He-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless, aka husband


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  1. Deb Haines says:

    My dear sister – everyone deals with adversity in different ways – but we were raised to use humor – some will respond to this – some won\’t – but be assured that your family will always.
    It\’s who we are and who you are and I love it.

    your sis Deb

  2. bensmyson says:

    Taking is sometimes harder than giving. Sounds weird doesn\’t it? How could receiving a gift be so hard, you just hold out your hands and say thanks. But if you think about it, our culture requires the repayment of gifts. Christmas reminds us of that, if I give you a present you feel obligated to give me one.

    In real life we do something called sharing. We aren\’t giving or taking, we share, share life, share responsibilities, we share hope. It\’s primal. It\’s survival.

    Driving an hour to share hope is sharing love, saving a community.

    Winter is all about survival, brutal north winds tear right through us. Sometimes the house gets cold and it seems your feet will never warm, even when they are held close to the fire.

    One kind word can warm three winter months. ~Japanese Proverb

    Much love on this cold and rainy day.

  3. Allan says:


    Profound and eloquent words.

    Love, Your Brother Allan

  4. Stagmom says:

    The autism family understands. The outside world, even our \”own\” families? Not so much. It\’s hard to buy another Elmo toy when your child is 15. Or to know that the wrapped gifts will go unnoticed. Or that you can\’t buy a simple holiday treat – because the diet makes the difference between functioning and catastrophe. It\’s hard. Hard. Hard. And we weep with you. The loss is profound. I no longer deny that. But so is the love. And that\’s what keeps me going.

    Peace, Alison.


  5. Ginger says:

    Wow, Allison! What powerful words that spoke directly to my heart in this trying time! I feel your pain, anguish, and have much compassion for you. You are super woman! I don\’t think I could handle 3 AU boys! Hang in there and thanks for those eloquent words of wisdom.

  6. Andrew says:


    You remind me of how lucky my family is.

    My mother has seven children, and 23 grandchildren. I don\’t even know how many great-grandchildren. And while each one of them is profoundly loved, nowhere is a frame of reference from which I could truly understand and respond to your words. Just know that I read, and am touched.


  7. Allison – Sounds like you\’re a PRETTY strong person so feel good & proud about that!
    I only have 1 son with \”AS\” & a grandson with \”HFA\”.
    My 18 yr. old teen\’s the youngest of 2…born 8 & a half yrs. after a typically developed girl. My daughter has a 5 & a half yr. old boy. He inherited his uncle\’s genes.
    Speaking for myself…I wouldn\’t have more children after having & knowing 1 or more of the existing kid/s have some sort of difficulty.
    Don\’t get me wrong…I\’m an EXTREMELY positive person who has always looked @ the bright side of everyone/everything else.
    Nevertheless, I totally understand the challenges & stressful lives any caretaker/giver has when having to deal on a daily basis with those affected by any kind of disorder.
    A lot of it depends (particularly) on the level of functioning the individual we\’re dealing with has.
    Realize us (as parents/guardians) are the ones who will depress the most by the limitations forced by \”A\” upon all fam. members living @ home.
    Only God knows why we\’d been chosen to be parents of such special individuals!!
    I truly believe everyone\’s here for a purpose. In other words…the Lord never gives us what we can\’t bear!!!
    Holidays seem to get quieter & quieter regardless…possibly due to the eco. downturn. However, I\’d felt for a LONG time they\’re WAY too commercialized which defeats the purpose & real meaning of the season.
    Please keep in mind people on the spectrum are usually fine (lots of stuff goes past them) & are normally well taken care of & overprotected. Their state of mind (living in their own/a different world as some call it) can often be favorable.
    Best Wishes!!!

  8. michele i. says:

    Okay ladies, I\’m not sure which made me cry more….. Alison\’s post or Kim\’s response! you both wrote so honestly and beautifully.

    Love to you both. your words remind me that somewhere, I am understood. thank you.


  9. Deepali says:

    I loved reading this. Thank you for sharing. I enjoy the piercingly honest over the casually humorous any day. I especially liked the part about it\’s been ten years and you\’re still not over it. It could be twenty years, thirty years. I still wouldn\’t be over it either. And that is ok. I also love the single word as a shard of pain, and the courage it takes to receive the teaching moment that comes with that.

  10. Beth Reynolds says:

    Well you are amazingly strong! And even if you and other tired, but resilient families can bear it…the community should be helping more, instead of heaping more crap on you. Whether it\’s the extended family being understanding at the holidays, the people in stores not staring or saying rude things, or actually helping with donations or passing legislation that can get these kidos the help they need.

  11. Barb says:

    Hey, Sweetheart,

    Yes, this is a time of the year for introspection and assessment of one\’s life, but also it is a time for the love we were shown growing up by our parents, especially at this time of year. Remember that we five siblings are always mindful of eachother and what each is living in his/her daily life, and will do whatever we can to help and support. We love you and yours.
    Blessings, your sis

  12. Katie B. says:

    Thanks for this post. It reminds professionals like myself that autism is 24/7/365. It never stops. And while there are funny moments, there are down moments too. Thanks for such a honest perspective, and here\’s to hoping that all parents of children have at least one person they can be real with and not have to fake the holiday cheer (or every day cheer) when it\’s, sometimes, just not there.

  13. Donna H says:

    I would choose a broken healer any day over a polished professional to share my deepest hurts. Thanks for posting this! Love you!

  14. Pat says:

    You have turned tragedy and challenge into beauty. You have turned disconnect into solidarity. Thank you for this poignant and truthful account. That\’s one of the most crushing things about autism, the way it robs us of the simple pleasures of life — the one that comes to mind is visiting friends and relatives. Or breaking bread together. Gluten-free don\’t break so well with groups, and disruptive behavior is not welcomed by elders (who never in their life met a kid who was so poorly behaved). But one thing we must accept about Christmas is that the people who have it all may ironically be those that have lost out. Christmas is a celebration of one man who dared to understand the meaning of who is really gifted on this earth, a new way of seeing life. The teaching said that it is the meek and the imperfect who have a gift in this world, a hidden gift — that they hold a certain purchase on what is true that most others don\’t. I\’m not even sure I can say what that is, but one day at an autism conference i sat at a table next to a beautiful young woman who began to cry and she was crying because she said she was meeting people for the first time in her life who were \”good people\” who meant something to her, people who weren\’t shallow or phony, people who really got it. So gifts come in all kinds of packages I guess, even packages that can hurt and heal in the same breath.

  15. helpingspecialkids says:


    You are such a fantastic woman and a great role model for the rest of us moms of special children. Just think, when we parents find a way to completely recover our children, you will have three times as much joy and celebration as those of us with just one!

    Always remember to laugh with and love your children every day!

    Merry Christmas!


  16. Candice McDaniel says:

    I don\’t know how you do it. You are an amazing woman and mom with an extremely generous heart. Thank you for your generosity and honesty.

    I only have one son on the spectrum (the youngest of 4 kids and the only boy) and I barely hold it together at times.

    It\’s comforting to hear that even after 10 years, you\’re not over it. I\’m not either. I struggle with celebrating all his victories while underneath on the inside, I hurt. To know what is and on some level want what could\’ve been is such a hard thing to reconcile.

    Don\’t get me wrong. I am blessed. He is amazing. All my kids are.

    Hope your holidays are as low stress as possible.

  17. Heather says:

    Couldn\’t have said it better.

    Your sisters seem sweet. I miss having a sibling in my life who gets it. Thankfully, my in laws step in from time to time, but not the same.

    But we – the moms who know – share a sisterhood, don\’t we? Thank heavens for that.

  18. Debby says:

    I admire you for being real. I know what you mean, I use humor when I blog too, it is popular. But sometimes being real and transparent is just what the doctor ordered.

    I am humbled by your strength. I only have one child, who was diagnosed a year and a half ago (he\’s 3.5)…and sometimes it feels insurmountable.

    You\’re a pioneer and an inspiration. Keep writing. We\’ll keep reading, nodding our heads and dabbing our eyes with tissues.

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