National Autism Awareness Month

Mom's Letter About Her Daughter With Autism Encourages Parents To Never Give Up Hope

"Although our family faces many challenges, there is no other child I would want as my own."

April is National Autism Awareness Month. To celebrate and bring awareness throughout the month, we will be highlighting positive stories we love about people with autism, as well as the stories of their friends and families. 

In an effort to raise awareness about autism, mom Kristina Jermain reached out to KTVU evening anchor Frank Somerville to share her experience raising a daughter with the developmental disorder. 

Somerville shared the letter Jermain wrote him on his Facebook page

"I won't sugar-coat it: raising a child with Autism is not easy. When people don't understand, they label her as 'crazy.' The misunderstanding is heartbreaking," Jermain wrote. "Caroline is non-verbal, and this is a source of frustration. She knows what she wants to communicate, but she just can't. It results in many meltdowns." 

Although Caroline is 3 years old, Jermain has yet to hear her daughter utter the word "mommy" or say "I love you." 

"I hope no parent takes these simple words and phrases for granted. She can't tell me when she feels sick, or why she's sad, or what's frustrating her," Jermain wrote. "I am also still waiting for her to have a friend." 

She shared that while other parents are supportive and invite her daughter over for playdates and birthdays, Caroline has not yet found another child she connects with. 

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Jermain went on to explain how difficult it can be to explain Caroline's behavior to people who don't understand what it's like to have a child with autism. "She doesn't ever act out to be malicious — it is, rather, out of frustration with her inability to communicate. When people don't understand this, they sometimes ask, 'What is wrong with your child?' It's heartbreaking." 

In addition to these challenges, Caroline's family has had to make sacrifices such as providing her with hours of therapy each week their insurance does not cover, and spend those hours house-bound. Despite all of this, there's no other child Jermain would want as her own. 

"Caroline put me into my favorite, most important role in life: motherhood," she wrote. "I have never been so happy, so in love, and so rewarded. She is fun, funny, spirited, strong-willed, determined, smart, beautiful, and inspiring. She has come SO FAR since we started treatment for her." 

Jermain's letter helps people unfamiliar with autism gain a better understanding of what parents can go through raising a child with autism, but it also gives those parents comfort and hope. 

"I want all parents of autistic children out there, who may be hopeless, to know that there is hope."

Jermain finished her letter by sharing she's confident her daughter will speak soon, make friends, continue to be successful, and that she'll always be proud of her. 

Somerville wasn't the only person moved by Jermain's letter. The post has since been shared 280 times, has over 2,700 likes, and received 150 comments of support. Many of those commenters were people sharing their own experiences raising children with autism or working with people who have the disorder. 

"I'd like to add that children with autism grow up to be adults with autism," one commenter wrote. "So often we just hear about the kids, it's important to remember that there are so many adults out there as well. I have two boys with autism, ages 6 and 19. My oldest has been lucky enough to find a great job where he works hard and is valued, but that isn't always the case. I'm grateful for businesses that hire autistic adults and work to find their talents to make it beneficial for everyone!" 

We hope Jermain's letter and the responses to it will raise awareness about autism and encourage people to be more compassionate toward people with autism long after this year's National Autism Month.

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