Every year at Thanksgiving, we go around the table at my mother’s house and say what we are grateful for.

My usual answer is, of course, my family.  This year is no exception.

Except this time,  my family has expanded quite a bit.  It hasn’t been an easy year.  But in the 11 months since my son’s autism diagnosis my family has grown to include this wonderful and welcoming community of fellow parents with children on the spectrum.  I truly feel like they are all part of my inner circle now, because without them to lean on, I’m not sure I would have made it.

So forgive me if I forget a few names in this list – know that if you are out there and I’ve “met” you, you’ve helped me.

This year, I am thankful for:

– My friends from Spectrummy Mummy, Welcome to the Mad House, and I Should Have Called Him Calvin, who dropped everything when I was having a crisis of confidence to help me through it via e-mail exchanges, even in different time zones across the globe;

– My SibShop mom friends, who have shown me a path to being a better mother through their grace and humor and tireless dedication to our amazing community (I won’t “out” you here but you know who you are);

– The three moms who welcomed me immediately at my son’s school after his diagnosis, and who instantly invited me for playdates without hesitation;

– My support group, who without even knowing it have changed my life;

– My fellow writers Hartley, Caitlin, Patty and Michelle, whose amazing talents have pushed me to be a better writer;

– The writers in the SPD Blogger Network, who were the first people online to show me that I wasn’t alone;

–  The high school and college friends that I have “rediscovered” here through this blog, who have encouraged me to write my story and who have been brave enough to share their parenting struggles with me;

– The moms of my kids’ best friends, who have become my best friends as well;

– My friend N., who while constantly crushing me at Facebook Scrabble still manages to make coffee squirt out of my nose with her hysterical instant messages; and

– The unbelievably honest and warm community of parent bloggers that I have grown to love and trust.  There are too many to mention, but click on any name on any of the comments on any post in this blog and you’ll meet an amazing person doing heroic things every day.

Of course, I am also eternally thankful for my actual family this year too.  My extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins chose the path less traveled by opening their arms and hearts to us to embrace our family, when they could have very easily turned away.  My brother and sister-in-law have continued to be beyond supportive and helpful, even from across the country.  My sister, of whom I am so proud, has asked me for a blue puzzle piece on her coat this winter.  My mom, a special educator herself, has gone above and beyond what is expected of a grandmother.  And she gets a huge thank you for staying with Tim and the boys when I went to see the Glee tour in New York City.

And just like every year, I am most grateful for my boys and for my husband Tim.  Every day they make me thankful that I am a part of this family.

Howie came home yesterday from school with a drawing of me.  His teacher asked him what he was thankful  for and he said “my mom”.

Right back at you, little man.  Right back at you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing

Ev’ryone can see we’re together
As we walk on by
(FLY!) and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won’t tell no lie
(ALL!) all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We’re giving love in a family dose” – We Are Family by Sister Sledge