BY: Janis Gaudelli – “Champion of Truths, Unicorns & AWE-tism”
From 2013 until 2017, I spent all day, every day angry with Autism. I became resentful, hopeless and unable to find a morsel of gratitude. Every conversation I had was peppered with victim-based, discouraging, angst-ridden banter. I vented to anyone who would listen about how much Autism sucks and how very hard it is (bless all of you who were on the receiving end).
Now here I stand, almost two years later, declaring that Autism still sucks. Depending on the day, I still have moments where I need to release the fury and fear that sometimes cripples me. I am not grateful for Autism and I apologize if you thought this would be the storyline of today’s blog. However, what I am grateful for is the person Autism has allowed me to become. It’s been 4 years since Kellan’s diagnosis and there is one thing that helped me discover the silver-lining: Gratitude.
Autism has changed me in ways no other experience has. And it was only when I began my gratitude practice that I began to see all that this disorder has gifted me. Autism has changed my lens on life. It has taught me to be patient with how life unfolds. Autism has not only made me a better parent, but a better human as well. Autism has granted me an expansive view of the world and all those in it.
Whereas Autism pushed me to level up, it first needed to humble me. I am fully aware that Autism came in to my life for a reason. It showed up to school me. I always say Kellan is my greatest professor–and he is– but Autism is the core curriculum.
Autism taught me to appreciate the small stuff, however, in our world, it isn’t so small. I savor every milestone, every forward motion, every moment of true connection and every obstacle we overcome, more than I ever would with a “typical” child.
Autism cured me of caring what others think of me. Once you know who you really are and what matters to you, what other people think of you becomes significantly less important.
Autism made me less accepting of the unnecessary bullshit (people, places, and things). My motto has become: ‘if it doesn’t add to our lives, it’s not in our lives’.
Autism showed me the strength in asking for help when I need it.
Autism helped me release my need for control and taught me to surrender to the unpredictable.
Autism has empowered me to embrace vulnerbility.
Autism helped me find a special community of parents who face the same struggles. Our overwhelming challenges have become sources of connection. I went from feeling completely isolated to seeing a beautiful web form amongst myself, and other parents grappling with the fear and frustrations Autism often presents us with.
Autism introduced me to wonderful people. Teachers, therapists, doctors, coaches, specialists, etc. – the people who I am so deeply grateful for – the people who would have never touched our lives otherwise.
Autism compelled me to look at my amazing child through a new lens, with all his unique strengths and challenges, and see who he is as an individual. Not who I want him to be. Not who I hope he’ll become. But who he actually is, right now, and to be grateful for exactly where he is on this journey.
Who can say they bear witness to a warrior each and every day? A child who has had to work harder at basic tasks that are second nature to the rest of us. A child whose brain is beyond fascinating and filled with wonder. A child who has exposed me to the truest concept of AWE because he notices everything, magnified and with great curiosity.
I chose to change Autism to AWE-tism because Kellan highlights the awe present in the every day. When I started to practice gratitude, and accepted all that is Autism, I finally released the angst and was invited to experience the awe of it all.
I urge you, friends, to keep practicing gratitude. Find in your everyday. It’s quite magical. I promise it will change your life, as it did mine.
Janis Gaudelli is The Founder of The Daily Feels. She started this passion project to reveal the magic behind storytelling, and how truth-based narratives bring people together in the most heart-warming of ways. Fascinated by soul, depth, intellect, raw truths and rebellion with a cause. Often captivated by the awe of nature: star gazing, moon manifesting, sunset chasing, waves crashing, crickets singing. Fiercely curious about the inner-workings of the human psyche… she professionally studies human behavior for a living. Forever proud and grateful for being a mom to the force that fuels her life: her 7-year-old son, and greatest professor, Kellan.