The Moment Autism Changed Everything
This blog post was written by Danica, a stay at home mom of 3 who spends most of her time homeschooling and cleaning up the path of destruction her autistic son leaves. You can follow his antics at http://laffytaffyandwine.blogspot.com/.
My world “officially” changed on February 25, 2003, when my husband and I sat at a huge table with a team of professionals I had no idea existed before — speech therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and physical therapists. I can’t remember how many there were, or most of that day for that matter. What I do remember is the team leader saying, “Based on the information you’ve given us, our observations and standard testing, Aaron fits the qualifications for Autism Spectrum Disorder.” As much as I thought I was prepared for what they were going to tell me, it still knocked the wind out of me. In the days that followed, I realized that my journey into the world of autism actually began long before February 25th.
When Aaron was eight months old, before I even knew what autism was, I was sitting at the dentist’s office reading a Newsweek article about three different families who had children with autism. My son was crawling at my feet, and I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “Thank you God that you gave me three healthy kids. There is no way I could raise a child like that.” A short time later, I was introduced to our neighbor who had a seven year old son with severe autism. I was fascinated, but all of my questions to his mother were met with so much pain she couldn’t even talk about it. Little did I know this boy would be the example I would use to see the path that my son would have, and his mother would be the example I would think about when others asked me questions about autism. But at the time, Aaron was typically developing. He had words, eye contact, wasn’t picky about food, and he was the happiest out of all my kids.
Slowly, however, we lost him. When he started walking on his tiptoes and flapping his hands we would joke about it, but I did become concerned. I took him to our pediatrician when he was sick and told him I thought Aaron might have autism. He said no way, and I was greatly relieved. My relief didn’t last long though, when three months later I toted my four year-old, three year-old, and two-year old Aaron to his well-child checkup. I NEVER took all three kids to the doctor, because that would be crazy, but that day I did. It turns out having my other two kiddos with me would be a buffer to ease the news I was going to get. When the pediatrician gave me a referral for an evaluation for autism I protested, “I was just here and you told me he didn’t have autism.” How could things have changed so quickly?
Two days after my baby turned two, I started down a path that I never asked for. My hopes and dreams for my son were shattered. I needed to fix him, cure him, and make him better. I needed to make him “normal”.
When I said my world “officially” changed on February 25th, that was only partially true. What really changed on that blurry day in February was my perspective. My best friend imparted words of wisdom after Aaron’s diagnosis that have stuck with me to this day - “This doesn’t change who Aaron is.” She was right. My world really didn’t change. It was still the same as it was the day before—it was just about to get a little crazier.
Stay tuned next week to read Danica’s next post!