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What Doctors Forgot to Tell Me About My Son With Autism

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When we received our son’s autism diagnosis over five years ago, the doctors and psychologists told us many, many things in a short amount of time. Our son Levi had just turned 2 years old the previous week, and now we found ourselves in a room full of professionals who all seemed to be in agreement about our baby boy. In less than an hour, we were informed that he had “classic autism” and were given predictions of what he wouldn’t be capable of doing in the future.

Autism is a spectrum, so I know it can be difficult to predict where a child will land as they grow older. And I certainly would never downplay the struggles families of kids with autism (including our own) have faced. But Levi is now almost 8 years old and as I reflect back to that dreary day in June 2015, it’s clear that those professionals forgot to share some very important information with us about our son’s future. Our future.

-Levi would become my best helper at home, willing to help with any chore I ask regardless of whose responsibility it should be.
-Levi would become a healthy eater. He’d eat more vegetables and fruits than anyone else in our house. (And cost us lots of money in fresh produce.)
-Levi would eventually clean his room without asking, and help his younger sister clean hers without a complaint.
-Levi would become the best cuddler and ask for hugs on a daily basis. His affectionate demeanor would fill my mommy heart over and over again.
-Levi would develop hobbies like riding his scooter around the neighborhood, visiting theme parks, building train sets in his room, playing video games…
-Levi would learn how to play the piano “by ear.”
-Levi would be potty-trained, go to school, have relationships with peers and adults, learn to play appropriately and find his words.
-Levi would experience more joy in one day than most of us experience in an entire month.

The doctors and psychologists forgot to tell me a lot that day. And to be fair, perhaps they couldn’t have predicted all of the therapies, support staff, and advocation our son would receive in the coming years. As I carried Levi out of that appointment in 2015, I remember him staring at the tears running down my cheeks. I was heartbroken. But I like to imagine that he wanted to say what he will often say to me now, whenever I express sadness or anger. “Deep breath, Mommy, deep breath.”

Originally published: February 16, 2021
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