Have you ever had that feeling where a smell, or a word, or event maybe even a song, suddenly throws you back into the past?
Suddenly it is 10 years ago, you are sitting in your car blissfully kid free (okay maybe it was more than 10 years but it is my fantasy so hush) Sing loudly with some awesome song on the radio.
Or, bam you are are sitting up late at night in your grandmothers old rocking chair suddenly you remember all those late nights holding your sweet child, rocking, humming and feeding him or her late at night.
Then there is the scary kind, like the time when my son who was prone to falling asleep in odd places fell asleep inside a toy box and I couldn’t find him for almost an hour! (I was about to call the police!)
This week I had an event like that. Someone said, “Don’t look back except to see how far you have come”
So I did.
I remembered when Zach as born, and how I knew right away something was different.
I remembered when he was meeting all his milestones except verbal asking the doctors, friends, heck anyone who met him Why, and getting the response “He will get there in his own time, over and over.”
I remember watching him spend hours spinning wheels on toys or lining everything in sight up. Including forks, butter knives, spoons, chairs, people… (Okay maybe not people but if he could’ he would have.)
I remember not knowing what autism was, or what to look for.
I remember looking for an answer and finding little to nothing. At the time books in the library were still full of stories where the autistic kids rocked back and forth in the corner and banged their head against the wall all day. None of them were my bright sweet little guy who followed you around and got into things like most toddlers, but didn’t talk.
There was nothing about regression, or loosing words. Except in cases of abuse, and I spent all day every day with him I knew he wasn’t being abused.
I looked back to the time he lost all his words, not that there were many but at some point he just stopped talking and the doctors couldn’t tell me why.
All of this was just a few years ago.. my son now 12, had autism.
I didn’t know. I didn’t even know where to go for help since the doctors all seemed to think it was anything but, to be honest I didn’t really want it to be autism either..
I wanted him to maybe have a hearing problem or maybe just a speech issue. I wanted it to be something we could medically address and then he would be okay.
I still saw autism as that little kid in a helmet rocking in the corner banging his head against the wall.
Then we finally found someone who knew it was more than that and he was diagnosed.
That night I cried. I am not sure if I was crying from relief, or from sorrow.
Sure it wasn’t something you can cure, but really I loved him so much did that matter? Zach was no less the amazing, sweet, loving, little guy I had the day before, the one who always found ways to get what he wanted even if it meant that he had to be creative to get it.
Then I realized autism wasn’t what I thought. It was so much more.
He was so much more.
After years of trying everything in the world to get him to talk and the help from an amazing speech teacher, he slowly gained those missing words.
He still has a long way to go but gone are the days of dragging me to the cabinet for a drink or just making things on his own because he couldn’t figure out how to make me understand.
Gone are the frustrated tears and the fit throwing. Gone is the elopement because not only can I understand him he can understand me! (I think a bit of his elopement was looking for someone who could understand him, how hard it must have been living with a bunch of people who can’t understand him!)
Today, my son came to me today because he was frustrated in a game he was playing on his iPad. He shoved it at me and said “It’s too hard help me.” He not just asked for help, he gave me a sentence, not a word or two, not a frustrated cry and a lost look. He asked for help.
Oh how very far he has come.
I cried today too; knowing the only limit I should accept for him is the ones I place on him. It might take him longer to get there but he will get there.
So for those parents who are where I was so many years ago. The diagnosis isn’t an end it is just a different beginning than you knew existed. It is just a different kind of life.
Oh and hold on you are in for one hell of a ride!