Sometimes you don't see life coming. Don't see the big bad around the corner, waiting to throw your life into a tailspin. My son was diagnosed with Autism when he was two years old. The NEXT DAY my husband lost his job. I hadn't recovered from the first blow when another upper cut came flying at me. Life as we knew it was over, and we would never be the same.
Over the next eleven years, I tapped into mommy super powers I never knew I had. Suddenly the primary breadwinner, holding down a full-time job, I struggled to keep all the balls in the air and to adjust. Not just the emotional tumult associated with parenting a special needs child, but to the rigors of this unforeseen life. Autism was a new universe, and I was an alien negotiating a new language, new therapies, issues, medical bills, and emotions. My husband and I poured everything—financially, emotionally, and the hard work of teaching our son and getting him the help he needed—into this effort. Every skill he painstakingly gained, every word he relearned, every step he took in his journey, brought me a unique brand of fulfillment inextricably linked with his progress.
About six years ago, I felt compelled to start a foundation for families living with Autism, in Georgia, our home state. My family had survived with the help of countless smart, compassionate, generous parents raising their children with Autism. I wanted to give back. Though many thought I was crazy to add one more thing to my life, I established a foundation to provide financial and emotional support for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) families.
There is joy in making things awesome for the ones we love, and even for others who need us. Many of those things are HAVE TO DOs, but—and this is a BUT the size of Cleveland—there should be some WANT TO DOs on our list, too. Not too long ago, I realized I had a huge WANT TO DO I hadn't ever pursued. Writing. I had written non-fiction around autism and advocacy, but not the novels I had always dreamed of publishing. About a year-and-a-half ago, I wrote a novel and, to my amazement, Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books) offered me a three-book deal for the love story I had penned. My favorite part of my book deal? I am donating 25% of my royalties from all three books to resourcing families living with Autism.
Loving our partners, raising our kids, managing our homes, and, for many of us, earning a living, keep us incredibly busy. Sometimes we lose sight of our dreams doing all the HAVE TO DOs. I urge you to seek them out. To pursue them like a million dollars lost in your couch cushions. Was it hard? Yes. Was I sometimes exhausted? Yes. Did I sometimes think I was going to break? Yes. But I DIDN'T break. I stretched. I grew. I thrived! I am doing what I was created to do and serving the people I feel compelled to help. And that is a dream come true. And it was worth it.
To learn more about my books, check out my website, kennedyryanwrites.com, or connect with me here:
When trying to figure out the cause of a behaviour in your child with autism, consider one of these three purposes the behaviour may be serving.
Ever wonder what it's like to have autism?