Grief and Autism

Grief comes in many forms.  When we have a child born who doesn’t fit the “perfect” mold, part of us is shattered, and putting the pieces back together can be very difficult, especially without support.

I don’t have the Canadian statistics, but Autism rates in the U.S. are 1 in 110 for children aged three to eighteen.  How utterly astonishing and something I was terribly ignorant about until I met a fantastic lady by the name of Babette Zschiegner.

Babette has two boys and they are both on the spectrum.  Her oldest, has more classic autism and is non-verbal.  Her youngest has high functioning autism or what is often referred to as Aspergers Syndrome.  She describes them as both having varied and unique challenges and blessings.

Babette has ambitious goals that are now becoming a reality in helping other parents whose children have autism.  These are, but not limited to her new book “Traveling With Your Autistic Child” and one on one coaching immediately following a diagnosis of autism so that parents can realize their lives will be different, but not over.

Babette explains that not just cross country or overseas traveling can overwhelm parents, but even an otherwise simple trip to the grocery store, can seem an insurmountable task, leading to isolation and depression.  However, Babette is living proof that parents can still have much joy in their lives with their children regardless of a diagnosis of Autism.

In no way, shape or form can I understand what that must feel like.  We all have a picture of what our lives will be like with our children, the dreams we have for them, the experiences we hope to share and a diagnosis of Autism or any other disease, can make those imaginings seem impossible to obtain. James and I chose to adopt a child with special needs, we were emotionally and mentally prepared, planned for it and weighed the risks and benefits – a completely different scenario.

However, what I can relate to is the feeling of being cheated.  When I watch my niece who is younger than Stefanie reach all the milestones that we should have already celebrated, my feelings are mixed –  happy for her, who I love dearly –  but also cheated by Stefanie’s death and I feel sadness and disappointment.

I would like to ask that if you know a parent of a child with Autism, send them this link.  They may do nothing with it, which is fine, but sometimes we keep our hurt inside and such an email might be the answer they are silently looking for.

Her book, which would be a great gift to any parent with an autistic children, is available at or at this link:  and her website is and email,

I am not writing this blog post because I benefit in any way.  I promise to never support a sales scheme or gain financially.  I believe in Babette and the good she is doing and my goal is to support as many people as possible who have had a devastating heartbreak but have decided to do the very best as they can and then help others in return.


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4 Responses to Grief and Autism

  1. Angie Smous says:

    Thanks for posting this. I will check out her website/book immediately. My husband and I basically figured out our three children (official diagnosis came a bit later) were all on the autism spectrum about 6 years ago. They are all very high functioning, but 3 aspies all 2 years apart , presents another set of challenges altogether. I’ve recently realized that I am either still, or starting to deal with a stage of grief.
    Thanks again.

    • patriciahung says:

      I hope it will help. Babette is a fantastic lady, truly she is, and if anyone can understand and help, it’s her.

  2. Cynthia says:

    I have read your blog in the past & totally missed this post. I have daughters that were very close in age to Stephanie at the time of her murder so, it always struck home. As a mother I could never imagine your pain & I am so sorry for your loss. However, I admire your strength & how you have helped other victims. Ironically, until I read this post I never associated my emotional ups and downs with grief but reading this helps. My son was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in 2010 at the age of 3. Although, I feel blessed that he is high functioning, I often feel cheated as well. As a parent it is emotionally difficult to watch his journey & to wonder how life will be for him. So I wanted to say thank you for writing this! You truly are an inspiration & I commend you on your strength.
    (Cameron’s Mom)

    • patriciahung says:

      Thank you for sharing your story with me. The best way to find happiness in the difficult times is to look for the blessings. I often ask myself “if this problem (whatever it might be) was a gift from my higher self, what would that gift be”? Through my daughters death, I have grown substantially and my children are much more empathetic than they might have been otherwise. There is always good that comes from bad – we just have to look for it. Nice to meet you Cynthia.

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