As parents, we have expectations for our child before he or she is even conceived. We imagine what he’ll look like, act like, be passionate about. We joke about occupations she is and is not allowed to pursue and wonder who he may eventually marry. We don’t spend a lot of time imagining what life will be like if our child has a disability, if perhaps he or she will always be dependent on us.
The diagnosis of autism changes that.
My son M developed typically until 10 months of age. By 12 months he’d lost skills. At 15 months he not only didn’t speak or sign, he didn’t respond to anything except (sometimes) his name. Our pediatrician told us this was normal but I knew better and started to take him to various specialists. I wasn’t surprised at the eventual diagnosis of autism but I was crushed.
Instead of play dates and museum passes, we spend our time working with a team of therapists. My son goes to a special school a few days a week to work on speech and social skills and at home his therapists are trying to help us with his sensory seeking behaviors and tantrums. M’s hard work is paying off though. He started speaking at 23 months, regained the skills he lost, and just started telling us when he needs deep pressure therapy. We are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.
This is not the life I had planned for my son, and I’m not the kind of mother that I had dreamt I would be. I’m learning though, that what we want isn’t always what we need. I’m not one of those people who sees the beauty of autism just yet, but I see the beauty of my son, and I’m prouder than I ever dreamt I would be for him to finally call me Mommy.