Gratitude is one of those things that linger in your heart and float around your mind. It is always there but you don’t always acknowledge it.

Being a special needs parent is difficult. At times it feels like your life is so much harder than others around you. Things are never simple. There are so many things to be grateful for but it is easy to forget them, especially this time of year. Even though we are in the month where we are constantly reminded to be thankful, we are sometimes anything but this is the season where there are so many painful reminders of how different your family dynamic is. 

Especially when you watch your child struggle with the changes in routine, the busyness of the holiday season, and the stress as the tension mounts while everywhere you look there is happiness and cheer, while your child is crying and trying so hard to cope with the situation—this is where it gets so hard because we have this societal pressure to try to put a smile on and join in on all the fun. We have other children who deserve to take part in it. We have an innate desire to have our children participate and enjoy things. We want to participate and enjoy things. 

But once they get triggered, and their behaviors spike, we are left crying on the inside. This is incredibly isolating. You go on Social media for a distraction and you are met with picture-perfect images. It just reinforces the differences and leaves you feeling empty. 

Sometimes we need to do our celebrations a little differently. It takes time to learn that.  It’s okay when you don’t get that perfect picture or any picture at all for that matter. It’s okay to feel unhappy and to be frustrated. 

It is also okay to try in spite of the chaos. We only fail when we don’t try.  

Find those moments of happiness and cherish them. It doesn’t matter what those moments look like to others. Find your tribe of other people who get it, I did and I am forever grateful. Surround yourself with family who understand and give you grace during these times, and who help you find the joy or at least acknowledge and tolerate the challenges. I am incredibly thankful and blessed with this as well. 

Be grateful for the simple moments. 

I  am grateful for the happiness and light that radiates through my daughter. Even though it takes a lot to get her there, especially this time of year. 

Seeing her as well as my other children happy fills me with gratitude and joy. At times it comes in pieces so when it comes together all at once it is the best feeling. Autism can bring big emotions. Anxiety, sadness, and frustration, even joy and happiness can be overwhelming for them at times, it’s all about finding a balance and finding what works for your child and your family. 

It’s being grateful for the little things. 

Finding beauty and joy within the chaos.

This post originally appeared on AutismadventureswithAlyssa.