After Miss M quickly ran away, changed her shirt and fled from the conference center, I motioned for Denial and Clueless to join me in our first Parent of an Autistic Child workshop. It was hard. I did NOT want to be at that conference, I did NOT want to wear that name tag, and I did NOT want to belong in the same room as "those" mothers, but, this first stop on our road trip proved to be vital for both Ryan and me. I will be AWEnest, I pretty much cried the entire four days of that first National Autism Conference, but through my tears I witnessed other mothers who were traveling the same journey as me, but many of them started out on their road trip weeks, months and years ahead of me. Those mothers had so many critical pit stops to share with me.
As I sat shaking and nauseous in those conference center rooms, I listened to those other road tripping moms' stories and in their stories, in their smiles and sometimes even in their tears, I saw the one thing I needed most, hope. That four letter H word made that six letter A word not seem so scary. Hope helped break the paralyzing fear that autism had on my heart and hope helped open my mind to discover that autism is not a road block, it's just an unexpected detour. And although I was still angry that this unplanned detour, on this unscheduled road trip was leading me to a particular destination I never wanted to visit, I began to understand that my worries and fears of how we were going to get "there", caused me to miss so many wondrous sights along the way.