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A Mother’s Day Wish

What do you think about on Mother's Day?

Is it a special time you shared with your kids? A card you gave or received? A meaningful gift? Maybe it’s taking a moment to remember your mother and all the sacrifices she made for you.

I'm Susan and I’m a single parent with three very special kids. I know a lot about sacrifice. My two boys have autism and my Mother’s Day wish is lot bigger than a bouquet of flowers.

My wish  is to live in a society where people with autism can be understood and accepted. I want my boys to be supported and guided towards a life of potential and possibility.

Today, one in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder. Are you surprised to hear it’s so common now? You may also be surprised to learn that there are no approved drugs and therapies are limited.

So many mothers like me struggle every day with a disorder that’s still misunderstood.

I love my kids dearly, but I have plenty of days where I’m overwhelmed. If I suddenly leave my oldest son, he can quickly get scared, confused and angry. If I don’t focus on my youngest, he might react by banging his head against the wall.

Simple tasks that other parents take for granted like riding a bus or standing in line at a grocery store can be incredibly trying. You can understand why I call us the “travelling circus” because wherever we go, chaos and noise follow. We tend to be the centre of attention. 

But autism is an invisible disability. When people look at my boys, they don't immediately see autism. It takes strength to not be frustrated, but to stay calm and encourage my children to be advocates for themselves. 

Though some days are a struggle, I’m thankful for the amazing work and research being done at Holland Bloorview. It’s through their support that my sons are in better control of their emotions and anxiety levels. My oldest is part of a behaviour therapy program called “Facing Your Fears” which is also making such a difference.

They have also taken part in genetics testing; sleep studies; brain imaging; assessments and interviews at Holland Bloorview’s Autism Research Centre. We participate in research as a family because it adds to the understanding of autism, which will lead to more targeted treatments.

Holland Bloorview is working with donors to establish The Dr. Stuart D. Sims Chair in Autism. This is such exciting news for any family coping with autism.

This new research position will improve the quality of life for kids with autism spectrum disorders and their families through research and teaching at Holland Bloorview and the University of Toronto.

It will be the first research Chair in Canada that focuses on discovering new treatments for kids with autism. It’s the starting point to ground-breaking therapies for my sons, and for thousands of kids with autism.

What does new autism research mean to me? It means my family and thousands of other families could have fewer moments of anxiety and stress, and more moments of connection and joy. That would be the best Mother’s Day gift ever. 

If you want to take action to help families like Susan's, you can make a donation toThe Dr. Stuart D. Sims Chair in Autism.Your gift today will help bring understanding to autism.