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If you have a child in your family with autism, maybe a blog entited ‘CELBRATE’ may not automatically spring to mind, but I hope this blog will encourage you to see your beautiful child as someone to celebrate every day. To have a child with autism in your life is sometimes difficult, sometimes overwhelming, sometimes exhausting, sometimes confusing, but always exciting and a reason to celebrate! I would like to share the following with you: When you have a baby, it’s like planning an exciting family holiday — to Greece. You buy a couple of guide books, plan your events and tours and wait for the day to arrive. Finally, you pack your bags and head off to the airport. When you board the plane, you get yourself comfy, take out your book and the plane leaves the ground. Everything is going to plan, but just as you land, the pilot comes over the loudspeaker “Welcome to France”. You are stunned! You didn’t book to go to France, you didn’t spend all those months planning on being in France, but there’s been a change in destination, completely out of your control, and here you are in France and here you must stay. You panic, you can’t speak the language and you don’t know anything about France. You had spent nine months learning Greek. So you must go out and buy new guidebooks and learn a whole new language. You will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. After you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around … and you begin to notice that France has the Eiffel Tower, beautiful shops … and wonderful restaurants. Everyone you know is busy coming and going to Greece … they are telling you what a wonderful time they are having, and you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

But … if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Greece, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about France” So, with all the challenges and complexities of having a child with autism in your family, I would ask you to do the following: CELEBRATE that this beautiful child is in your life and every day tries their very best. CELEBRATE that your child is going to challenge you to be inventive, creative and always give the best of yourself. CELEBRATE that your child will teach you the beauty in the simplest of activities. CELEBRATE the joy of your child’s first words, or if they are not talking yet, CELEBRATE the ways that they try to communicate with you. CELEBRATE every single thing your child does, no matter how small you consider it to be – because to your child everything they achieve is MASSIVE!!! CELEBRATE your different life and the journey you are on with your family. Go on, give yourself permission to be joyful that you are dancing to a different tune to many and see that as a reason to CELEBRATE!

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