W hile there is no stable, universally understood concept of “normal,” most of us are raised to believe that in order to be fully embraced into societal norms our lives must follow a similar cycle to this – graduate from college, secure a high paying job in a chosen career, get married, start a family and then eventually enjoy a relaxing retirement with grandkids scattered all around.

As an obsessive rule follower and box checker, I took great pride in following that life cycle and enjoying the anticipated rites of passage into adulthood – specifically motherhood. However, we are never truly prepared for the curve balls thrown directly at our heads the force us to figure out how to cope with an abnormal and unpredictable future.

An Eye-Opening Diagnosis

When I first received Skyler’s diagnosis, I had to grieve the loss of the plans and expectations I had already created on his behalf. After coming to terms with the uncertainty of his future prognosis, I had to quickly roll up my sleeves and face the everyday realities of Skyler’s unique, individual needs. Even more glaring was the fact that, due to his diagnosis, society had now labeled him as disabled, abnormal, non-neurotypical / neurodiverse and essentially placed him, along with his family members, on a completely different island than his “normal” peers.

Celebrating Differences

It’s important to me that Skyler not spend his life feeling like a round peg trying to fit into a square hole. Why should he or anyone like him be forced to live and follow the path to adulthood exactly as the world says it should be done? It saddens me that our special-needs community often finds themselves left behind, ostracized, marginalized, or, at best, tolerated because they develop at a pace that may diverge from the norm.

Individuals on the spectrum have many abilities. Every individual has their own unique strengths and characteristics that must be acknowledged and celebrated.

Watching Skyler develop skills in his own way and on his own timeline has been an incredible experience and has taught me the true meaning of unconditional love and support.

Perhaps it may appear that I’m living a life on the edge, often stressed, exhausted and overwhelmed, but at the end of my life’s journey, I know that I have lived a crazy & beautiful life that most people only dream of. For me, “normal” is living a life that you love and loving the life that you live. We only have one chance to create the best life possible … so why not smile, soak up every second and redefine what NORMAL truly means!

“Normal is an illusion. What’s normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.” – Charles Addams