Did you know that, according to The Autism Society of America’s Facts and Statistics page, autism prevalence increased by 6-15 percent each year from 2002 to 2010? It’s true.

When you hear statistics like that, chances are your mind goes directly to the thousands of children diagnosed with autism during that decade.

But what about the dads and moms who made the shift to “autism parents” at the same time? What about the ways in which your lives changed as a result of an autism diagnosis?

Too often, society doesn’t acknowledge all that autism parents do to champion their children. So today, in honor of Mother’s Day, we’re taking the time to honor our autism moms, dads, and guardians who have made all the difference in our lives.

We give thanks for each of you, and are grateful for the love you show every day of every year. For your selflessness, patience, and kindness, here are 10 reasons we celebrate autism moms today:

1.png You know what it means to love your children for exactly who they are, rather than who the world assumes they ought to be.

2.png You work hard to secure vital professional services for your sons and daughters. Plus, you deal with everything from meltdowns to Minecraft obsessions on a daily basis. You may make it look easy, but it takes a lot of effort to do what you do!

3.png You deal with a great deal of extra paperwork and practical tasks every single day. From bringing your children to ABA therapy sessions to completing the necessary Individualized Educational Program (IEP) forms, you autism moms handle it all.

4.png  You help to educate friends and family members about what life with autism looks like. In formal and informal ways, you teach others how to interact with someone who has autism.

5.png  You encourage your children to dream big … and then you work hard to help bring those dreams to life. Some of you literally create jobs for your children, thereby allowing your sons and daughters to contribute to your communities, earn income, and gain independence, too.

One such amazing example is Deb Fremmerlind, the mother of Brad Fremmerlind. Brad is a nonverbal young man severely affected by autism with a thriving furniture assembly business. In the 2014 Autism After 16 feature article Made By Brad: Thinking Outside The Box, writer and autism sibling Caroline McGraw interviewed Deb Fremmerlind about how she prepared her son to work. Deb recalled, “We’d buy Lego projects and send them to [his] day program to give him something productive to do …. [W]e wanted to figure out how to use his skills in building furniture. In the fall of 2013, we set a goal with Brad’s day program that Brad would build furniture for people.” And the rest, as they say, is history. What began as one mom’s decision to help her child learn and grow turned into a booming business and worldwide press coverage.

6.png  You pursue you own passions and empower your children to live into their potential as well.

For example, autism mom Elaine Hall used her talents and connections as a Hollywood acting coach to found The Miracle Project, an inclusive theater program that helps individuals with autism to grow their confidence and communication skills.

7.pngYou are the driving force behind many nonprofit and community-based organizations that serve the autism community. Grassroots groups such as Families for Early Autism Treatment (FEAT) are entirely parent-driven, providing support groups and resources to millions across the nation.

8.png  You are powerful advocates, constantly changing the face of autism services and awareness across the country.

One such mom, Lorri Unumb, currently serves as Vice President of State Government Affairs at Autism Speaks. She’s been at the forefront of autism insurance reform ever since the bill she authored, Ryan’s Law, was passed in May 2007. Ryan’s Law requires insurance companies to provide coverage for autism treatments such as ABA therapy, and it set an important precedent for the national autism insurance coverage movement.

9.png  You challenge your kids to grow and develop. As self-advocate, professor, author, and speaker Temple Grandin aptly noted“I think sometimes parents and teachers fail to stretch kids. My mother had a very good sense of how to stretch me just slightly outside my comfort zone.”

10.png You do the most powerful thing you can do for autism awareness: you simply love your children.

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This Mother’s Day, we say thank YOU to each and every autism mom in our community. We commend your dedication and compassion, and we hope you each get TLC today! Send flowers, offer to babysit, or make a donation in honor of autism moms.

Express gratitude for great autism moms everywhere by sharing this post with your social networks. (You get extra credit for tagging the rock star moms you know.) You’ll be raising awareness and saying thank you at the same time.