The odds of having a child with autism? 1 in 110. That is just a number, right? I mean after all, for every 1 child with autism, there are 109 without. Hmmm…. well, the odds for me are a little higher. I have 2 children, one with autism. That takes my odds to 1 in 2. It really doesn’t matter what the odds are to me…. here I am facing it head on.
My son began showing signs right before his second birthday. He had been developing normally up till then. He rolled over, sat up, crawled, walked, said his first words (yep, he talked), so why would I have suspected anything? He was a happy, giggly, healthy baby and I was in love with him (still am). I had heard of autism, but I didn’t really know what it was. I was in ignorant bliss.
Then something happened. He stopped looking at me in the eyes. He stopped responding to his name. He stopped saying “mommy” (that was the worst). Actually, he stopped talking altogether. There was silence. The eerie silence like what comes before a big storm…. the kind of silence that makes you shiver, because you are afraid of what is coming. I talked to his doctor. Maybe it was his hearing. I prayed it was his hearing. Maybe he was just a little behind. I prayed he was just a little behind. I tried to ignore it, I tried to wish it away, goodness knows I tried to pray it away. I wouldn’t say the word, but others did.
An early intervention specialist was the first one to suggest it. That word….no, you don’t understand, that is not it. There is something else being missed here. Speech therapy was recommended and the word came out again. Occupational therapy was recommended and the word came out yet again. I began to research… “ok so maybe there is a few signs, but he certainly doesn’t fit some of these” I thought to myself. I knew. Deep down, I knew. The diagnosis didn’t come until much later, but I knew. I was angry, I was hurt, I was scared and confused. Most of all, I felt completly uncapable of handling something this big. But, I did. You see the thing about having a special needs child is that you can only hurt and be angry for so long. You just don’t have the time to waste on it. You have to pick yourself up and fight. Fight for all you got for your child.
So, here I am now. It has been almost 4 years since those signs first showed up. I am tired… very tired, but I am here and I am surviving. Not only am I surviving, I think I might have even settled into a life I kind of like. Nope, it is not the same as most people I know, but it is a good one. I have two AMAZING children. I have a daughter that has become her brother’s biggest advocate. It is not easy for a teenage girl who just wants to fit in to have a brother who so stands out. Not only does she accept him, she adores him. I am so proud of her.
I have a son that struggles every day on things that most of us take for granted. It is a battle to simply have his needs known. He doesn’t let it stop him. He has the attitude of a champion. He is strong. He has every reason to think that life is unfair, but instead, he loves life. He laughs, he smiles, he cherishes every moment. He brings joy to my life like I have never known. He is my inspiration.
My life is a challenging one, but it is a good one. What are the odds of that?