Last week my best friend Lisa made me cry like a baby by posting this letter on my Facebook wall. It surprised the hell out of me - we've been friends for nearly 20 years and I had no idea that she felt this way.
In the many years since my kids were diagnosed I've seen a lot of friendships disappear, but I will fight to my dying day to keep this one. If you have friends or family with special needs kids, please fight to keep them in your lives. They need you.
I'm 100% guilty of ignorance and laziness.
My best friend has two children both with an ASD. These beautiful boys are now teenagers, and as a semi-stranger in their life I'm sorry I missed out on sharing with their mum the highs and lows of their growing up. In the last two years I've learnt more about ASD than I did when she first told me her eldest son had Autism. The reason why? Because I now have a child with Down syndrome.
Twelve years ago I lost a friend who was struggling with an undiagnosed child and a new baby. I let her go because I didn't have kids and didn't understand what she was going through. I didn't chase her or make the time to see if she needed anything other than the occasional chat. These eventually shrunk to the occasional SMS, email or gossip picked up through old work friends.
Then I got lucky and she came back into my life. There was no resentment from her (which she had every right to feel), it was like we'd just seen each other a week ago. Luckily I smartened up some and even when our lifestyles changed again I made sure we stayed in touch.
But I realised after a discussion with my husband tonight that instead of dropping out of my life when I had a child with a disability two years ago, she's done nothing but help me with information and ideas. My baby's diagnosis was an easy one, and luckily it's not something either me or my husband struggle greatly with, but I know that if I had, the only difference it would have made to the owner of this Facebook page is to be more supportive than she already has been.
What's my point to all this....mostly to embarrass her and thank her but also to say... if your non-aware friends drop out of your life, they may be just ignorant and lazy buttheads like I used to be, or they may just really have no clue what to say or how to help. So tell them to get up off their lazy butts and make the effort to keep you in their life, as you want them there but don't have the time or energy sometimes to call and say "Hi buy me a coffee before I slap someone!"
Also I think I'm only about 60% ignorant now but still 100% lazy :)
If you have a friend or family member with autistic kids
and you want to help but don't know how,
check out The Awesomely Big List of Ways To Help Parents of Autistic Kids.