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The 3 Words a Doctor Said That Changed the Life of My Son With Autism

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Dear Doctor,

Last April, you changed not only my son Brock’s life, but my life as well. I was scared to bring my son to your office. Prior to seeing you, no other medical provider took the time to truly listen to my concerns for my son. I was told, “Boys will be boys,” “You’re a first-time mom” and “He’ll outgrow it.” Another provider even laughed in my face while I was in tears and said, “All you parents these days want a label on your child.” But it was never about labeling my son, it was about finding him the help he truly deserved to lead a successful life.

Brock was born healthy at a whopping 8 pounds, 10 ounces. During the first year of his life, he hit milestones ahead of schedule. But around the 18-month mark, he started to regress. After getting a second, third and even a fourth opinion, I was at a standstill.

When it was time for Brock to enter preschool, I decided to homeschool him instead. That’s when I decided to bring Brock to you. For more than four years, I wrote in a journal about the things that worried me: his lack of successful potty training, delayed fine and gross motor skills, always needing a set schedule, obsessive and repetitive behaviors and not maintaining eye contact. Although his vocabulary was advanced for his age, his words didn’t fit with what was being discussed. He would scream as if he were in pain every time his teeth and hair were brushed. And when his normal schedule was disrupted, he would have what I thought at the time were severe panic attacks. It was all very concerning.

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When we walked into your office that day, I wasn’t very hopeful after my past experiences. After being laughed at, I was starting to think that maybe it was me. I thought I was a bad mom, even after reassurances from my family and friends (the people who truly know me) that I wasn’t. When you spend your child’s whole life trying to do everything in your power to get help for him with no results, it does something to a person’s mind. I was in a dark place emotionally.

I’ll never forget when you walked into that room. For whatever reason, I was immediately set at ease. You looked at me like I was a person and not an inconvenient part of your day. You truly listened to all of my concerns as I was once again in tears. I practically begged you to help me help my son. You said the words I was waiting to hear: “I believe you.” That was the most monumental moment of my life. At that moment, all my doubts slipped away. I knew things would become easier for Brock. Because after all, it was all about him. My son needed those three words just as much as I did. Those three words completely changed his life for the better in the 18 months since.

Brock was officially diagnosed with autism and sensory processing disorder. He’s now in the first grade, and in the past year, he has made many strides. A year ago he couldn’t read, and now he’s reading at the same level as his peers. He wrote his name for the first time, and he gets services through the special education department at his school, along with occupational therapy, behavioral therapy and play therapy. I even got him a dog who helps calm him during meltdowns.

I don’t know where he’d be at right now if you didn’t open all of these doors. I don’t even want to think about it. But what I do want to say is thank you. Thank you for treating us like people and for truly listening to my concerns. I’ll forever remember you as the doctor who changed our lives. Because you did. My son deserved to be heard, and you heard him. Even though he faces an abundance of challenges each day, we now know what we can do to help him overcome and cope with them.

Originally published: October 5, 2015
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