I will never forget the day we met. It will forever be burned into my memory. That was the day you almost took control of not only my son but my entire family. You almost had me, Autism. For an instant, I became victim to the fears that so often accompany you.
How could you possibly be knocking on my door? I’d done everything right. I never missed a prenatal exam. I ate right. I breastfed exclusively for an entire year. I was diligent with his doctor appointments. You must have had the wrong house. But you came anyway. And then you proceeded to subject me to endless nights full of guilt and unrest.
What had I done to cause this? This must be my fault. You filled my head with self-doubt and self-loathing. I started to grieve for the son I thought I’d lost to you. I often found myself feeling sad for my younger daughter, who became nearly invisible amongst the tantrums and therapies. I had a fear of what the future would hold for my precious son. Will he be independent? Will he attend college? Will he get married? Will he be bullied or labeled by a society who doesn’t understand him? Will I be capable of being the mother he needs me to be? Can I build him up when he feels different? Will I be able to show him what an amazing person he is? Will I have the tools to show him he is more than his diagnosis? Will I ever hear the words I so desperately long to hear, “I love you, Mommy?”
I have so many questions and so few answers. I still find myself going to those dark places from time to time. But from all those negative feelings, I’ve become a phoenix from the autism fire. I’ve become stronger than I ever thought possible. I can look at my beautiful baby boy and no longer see the face of autism. I see Tyler. I see a sweet, smiling little boy who is full of curiosity and energy.
He’s my spectacular puzzle. All I want to do is keep that sweet smile on his face. I want to expose him to every experience I can that might be the key to opening something new and adventurous for him. He is my teacher. He is my gift from God. He has taught me how to see things from his perspective, and now, life is so much more colorful than I’ve ever seen it before. He’s taught me that everyone has a story, and sometimes people need more support and less judgment. He’s taught me to appreciate every milestone.
Because of you, Autism, I’ve met some of the most amazing people I’ve ever known. People I would probably never have met otherwise. We’ve been a support system for each other when you’ve tried to lock us up in your dark hole. Because of you, Autism, my family and marriage are stronger than ever. I’ve become an advocate and an encyclopedia, if you will, of information for families that unwillingly have you in their lives.
Autism, you almost had me. But the joke is on you, because we’re thriving.
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