Living Large. Buddhist lessons in our autistic household

The Buddha taught that life is a series of losses.  It is only when we accept that things are never permanent and stop our grasping reach at what is actually shifting fog in front of us that we can actually be happy.  Our ideas of what should be and what could be ensure that we are constantly disappointed.  And our self-talk about how awful it is that things are not the way we think they should be is what causes us to suffer.

This seems pretty straight-forward.  Until I try to apply it to my own life.

Life in general provides frequent reminders of how grasping we are.  How we long for permanence.

How more so the life with autism.

Autism is a constant reminder that I wish things were different.  My older son's experiences with bullying.  His troubles with adapting to his brothers' needs.  The rigidity that complicates every day.  My middle son's anger and sadness.  His inability to communicate even after 11 years.  His destruction of our house and aggression towards his brothers.  My little Aspie's inability to recognize the signs of increasing aggression.  And his rigid ideas about how life should be keep him from being flexible enough to accommodate his brother's needs.

My sadness, anger and depression is a constant reminder that I am grasping at fog.  Learning Buddhism's lessons while living with autism seems to be to be force feeding a BS, Masters and PhD into a single semester.

There is a real pain for him, a sadness that Nathan hurts so bad.  And then there is the pain that things are not different.  I excuse it by saying "I don't want him to be normal, I just want him to not have so much pain."  But it is not the organic pain that is the base that overwhelms me.  That should force me to act, to try different techniques.  It is the big covering of pain that increases my suffering to a paralytic breaking point.  The icing that comes from my own suffering recitation of wrongness. 

Sometimes, most times, the best I can do is identify the suffering.  Stopping it is often beyond me.  But identifying it at least allows me to see that it is not Nathan's fault.  Today, better than last year and the years before, it allows me to sidestep the anger that suffused every day. 

But still the depression and grief are a daily thing.  Identifying the daily happiness means I am living in the moment.  But it is so often dwarfed in my mind by the daily disappointments.  How often I wish I had a teacher who could guide me, reprimand me, show me the path through to knowing my own mind more.

The Bodhisattva meditation is something I return to again and again. 

May I be well.  May I be happy.  May I be free from suffering.

May he be well.  May he be happy.  May he be free from suffering.


  1. Hi spectrummom, I stumbled upon this post and wow, I cannot have said it any better. When my son got diagnosed with seizures then NF1 and now autism I had every motive to get depressed. Every motive to drown into my own misery but I didn't. I didn't because If I had then I wouldn't be able to help my son. Sure I have my moments of utter and complete sadness but I look beyond them. I learnt to live day by day and enjoy every single minute I have with my kids. The future scares me that's why I ignore it, for now.
    Keep your head up you are a fantastic mother. I cannot even imagine what you go through everyday...

    1. The future is an unknown. It depends on so many factors, so many decisions, so many things out of our control. In so many ways I am glad to not know the future. This is the only moment we have. Even tomorrow is an unknown.


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