A Letter to My Daughter With Autism on Mother's Day
On Mother’s Day we often think of flower bouquets, special gifts and fancy meals. For me, this day is significant because I celebrate the reason I am a mother… I celebrate you, my beautiful daughter. I celebrate your life and the meaning it has brought to our family.
We almost didn’t get to meet you. Some doctors told us that we might not be able to have another child and we were about to get some testing done. That’s when we found out that we were expecting you! We were overjoyed but also a little nervous. I did everything I could to make sure you would be healthy and safe.
I didn’t eat gluten or dairy. I ate lots of fruits and veggies and tried to keep the chocolate cake to a minimum. I even gave birth to you at home with out any drugs. That was tough! But worth it.
Before you were born, your brother went through some difficult times and we finally found out that he had something called autism. The doctors said it was likely you wouldn’t have autism because you were a female and “girls typically don’t have autism.”
You were the sweetest little angel I’d ever met. After your first birthday we realized that you weren’t meeting all of your milestones. We took you for some tests and found out that you had something called mosaic trisomy 8. This is a chromosomal disorder that means you had an extra number 8 chromosome in some of your cells. The doctor said that you “weren’t supposed to be here” and that you “were a fighter.”
We didn’t know exactly what this condition would mean for you because it affects different children in different ways. What we did find out about children with trisomy 8 mosaicism is that most kids are very kind and loving. We also learned that they’ll often have developmental delays that look similar to autism. The doctors couldn’t guarantee you would ever talk in full sentences or do things that other children your age were doing like feed and dress yourself.
You went to occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and behavioral therapy for years and even though it wasn’t easy, you always worked so hard. You were also put through a lot of tests to find out what was going on on the inside. And you were always so brave. The doctor was right, you really were a fighter!
When you were 2 years old a specialist told us it was likely you had autism. At the time, it didn’t make sense to Daddy and I because, although you were speech delayed, you were very social. You made friends with every person you met, from the waiter in a restaurant to strangers on the playground.
We learned that autism is a spectrum and not all kids display the same traits. On top of that, the symptoms in girls and women are not always the same as in boys and men. We also learned that an autism diagnosis is common in kids with trisomy 8.
With much hard work you did start to talk, learned to dress yourself and brush your teeth and were potty trained! All of these things may have come later than your peers, but so what? You worked hard and you did it!
You’re in first grade now and learning to read. It’s not your favorite subject; you’re actually partial to math like your brother. You don’t love sitting at your desk all day because you just “want to sing and dance all day;” but you do it anyway. You are kind to everyone and only see the good in people (except maybe your brother).
I adore all of your little quirks because they’re what make you special and I hope and pray that you will always embrace your uniqueness and not try and change or be someone you’re not.
You’ve worked so hard to be where you are today and I am so proud of you; but please know that had you never gotten to this point and accomplished all of these things, I would have loved you just the same.
On Mother’s Day, I celebrate you, my daughter. You are so brave and so beautiful inside and out. You’re the reason I am a mother and you are loved unconditionally.
You are my special girl… my fighter… my miracle.
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