Why is it important to find your autism tribe?
As special needs parents, we can often feel alone in our journey. We can feel like no one understands our frustrations, fears, or problems. It is true, to an extent, that unless they have walked in our shoes, it can be difficult to fully relate. That does not mean that you are designed to go through life without a tribe of people who understand you; it simply means you will have to look harder and be more selective in your choices. Not everyone deserves a spot in your tribe.
How do I find my autism tribe?
Ideally, your tribe should be like minded individuals whom you can go to for advice or assistance. It’s the people with whom you feel comfortable sharing your struggles and your victories. You don’t feel judged or shamed or afraid to share. You share to vent, get answers, or simply commiserate with people who get it. It is a safe haven for you to share ideas and celebrate victories. The key words are SAFE HAVEN. They aren’t there to criticize your parenting skills, fashion choices, or what you had for second breakfast. Criticism can be given in a tribe but it ALWAYS comes from a place of love and humility.
This brings up a special point … not everyone deserves to be in your tribe. I went for years without a tribe because I could not find people who had my best interests at heart. They either didn’t understand autism or only thought they did, which came with lots and lots of unsolicited advice. I felt judged and criticized. Some people, even family, come from a judgmental standpoint. They don’t get a spot in your tribe. If they don’t understand autism and it’s many quirks, they don’t get a spot in your tribe. Just because they are related to you, doesn’t mean they deserve a spot in your tribe. You have to be selective on who gets a coveted spot.
Can I find my tribe online?
Tribes don’t have to be people you can see and feel. The internet can be a wonderful place. Facebook has a plethora of groups where you can ask questions. You make friends in those groups then you branch out from there. A few groups I like for autism are:
- Special Needs Homeschooling
- Recovering Kids
- The Giles Frontier Community
- Sensory Processing Disorder
- Special Needs Mom Network
From these groups, I’ve been able to make friends and branch out into secret groups with just a small portion of people. It’s in those groups that I’ve felt the most accepted and gotten the most help for whatever I needed at the moment. I haven’t met all these ladies in person. I may very well never meet them face to face. Our bond is tight though as we cheer each other on and cry on each other’s shoulders. We can learn from others who walk ahead of us on this road. We can mentor those who are not as far along as we are. Either way, we have each other to laugh, cry, and act ridiculous with when needed.
I’m not saying your tribe can only be online. I do have several face to face friends that totally make up my tribe. They would walk to the ends of the earth for my kids. I can count on them to cheer our victories, cry over our disappointments, and tell me when I’m going down the wrong path. They will be excited for my crazy decisions (moving to Arizona perhaps) because they want to see where the adventure takes us. They are the kind of people you want in your tribe, whether in person or online.
No matter what, find your tribe!
Don’t try to go through life without a tribe. Learn from my mistake on this one. Make an effort to find one or two like-minded people who get you. Don’t worry about the logistics of where they live or if you will ever meet them. Just find someone as weird as you are that makes you feel comfortable.If a weirdo like me can do it, then you should be able to as well.