Autism and My Child: Getting Familiar with What I Already Know
My experience in having my youngest son assessed for autism spectrum disorder has taken me for a bumpy ride. At first, I went through a period of grieving that made it hard to eat and sleep. This was surprising since I never went through this stage with my oldest son when he was diagnosed with a mood disorder. Sure, I was devastated at times, but I didn’t struggle with a feeling of loss so abruptly. I think it was due to my desperate need for my oldest son’s rages to stop and my understanding early on that he had a brain problem. Where with my youngest, I had always believed it was just a stage that he would eventually outgrow. Next, I struggled with my guilt and shame for not seeing my son’s symptoms sooner, I felt like a terrible mother who now had 2 kids cursed with a disorder. As I started getting down to business, preparing for our appointment with the Neurologist, I was forced to face all the unknowns and to explore a world I was unfamiliar with. What followed was a long, slow exhale and a feeling of peace.
I thought the world of autism was foreign to me, but after reading a pile of books and doing online searches about the spectrum, I discovered that this is not uncharted territory, instead I realized that this is my son. I know this world already, I live it everyday.
No matter what the final diagnosis is, I’ve realized that my son is my son and no matter what label you give him, he’s still the boy I’ve loved everyday. Though he has challenges that make life tough, he has a personality that I adore. His unique life perspective blesses my life and he brings me so much joy. Though I wish he didn’t struggle with so many things, I would miss his uniqueness if he was wired differently—who else would wear red rain boots everywhere he goes in the dead heat of summer?
Today I’m no longer afraid, instead I’m excited about the possibility of improving his life and I’m looking forward to all that he’ll teach me along the way.
* * *
The other night we took the boys out to dinner for spaghetti. As the dishes were being served my middle son reminded everyone to put their napkin in their lap before eating. My little one laughed out loud and said, “I’m not fancy!” then proceeded to wipe his face with the back of his hand. That’s my boy!
I’m a mother of 3 young boys, the oldest suffering from Bipolar 1 Disorder and the youngest diagnosed with depression and possible Aspergers Syndrome. I write a blog to let go of my pain and to help support others by letting them know they’re not alone.