It all changed in the blink of an eye, the day I had my first son. I went from a married woman to a mother, and the moment that happened, my job changed too. Now I had someone smaller than me to love and hold and protect. But my role as mother to this child meant more than just that, I’d find out in a few years. Telling how much my life changed over the past 8 years since my son’s birth is not a simple story, so I’ll start at the beginning.
When my son was born, I looked at him with wonder. He has beautiful dark brown eyes and this natural olive complexion that could only mean that he would grow up to look just like my husband. In the months ahead, I felt blessed because my baby slept through the night after only a couple of weeks, hardly ever cried, and didn’t really need me to hold him a lot. So many people around me had babies that fussed all the time, and mine let me do all kinds of things around the house. If I’m honest, I almost felt guilty that he hardly needed me to hold him and I did whatever I wanted, but he was an easy baby.
As he got older, he remained an easy-going child. He did what we asked. If we said “no,” he listened. He obeyed very simple commands. Then, around 18 months of age, he began acting up at daycare. Suddenly, we got reports about him hitting other kids. Then he began hitting at home and he stopped listening. Our easygoing child stopped listening? What happened? I called the pediatrician and asked for some advice, and got referred to the local developmental services agency. That referral began our whole journey of discovery, because that’s when I found out that he had delays in pretty much every area. I never knew he had cognitive delays, motor delays, or any of that. We later discovered that he also had severe speech delays. No one ever acknowledged the behaviours as anything beyond a reaction to his delays, though, and I went with that “diagnosis” to his issues. I could see how frustration might cause him to act out.
Well, his speech got better and he still acted out. A colleague suggested his behaviours looked like those of a child with autism, and it clicked. As a teacher, I should have seen it, but I never did. I grabbed on to it, and never let go. It took over a year to get in once we got the referral to TEACCH, a local agency that diagnosis and provides services for people with autism in North Carolina, but we got there and they diagnosed him with autism, confirming what I had already known in my mind. But you see, a diagnosis just confirms what we already know. It doesn’t fix anything. It made available services that helped him improve with his speech, his motor skills, and his overall communication, but changing his behaviors had nothing to do with “fixing” him anyway. It took years for us to come around to the fact that he didn’t need fixing. I’m better with him than anyone in that regard.
And you know what? As a parent of a child with Autism, I know some days we struggle. And boy-oh-boy, some days we struggle. All parents go through days like this, but our days might include things like full on body-slamming meltdowns, poop smeared on carpet, chasing a full-grown child in a busy parking lot, slaps in the face, and judgement from people who just don’t get it. People don’t realize these behaviors have reasons and that the reason isn’t a naughty child. But you know what? This too shall pass.
Do I regret having him? Not for anything in this entire world. My life changed for the better when he come into this world. In many ways, he’s made me a better person.
The days where I wanted answers and a “fix” to my child’s behaviors have long since passed. As my husband and I have grown as parents, we’ve realized that the answers really don’t exist. We can do things to make him feel better, like probiotic, changing his diet, and his sensory diet, but he will always have autism and I’m good with that. So if you’re looking for a set of rules for how to fix autism, you should look at fixing your mindset instead of fixing your child.
Autism isn’t a disease, it’s a disorder. Your child is a person. They’re individuals and we must treat them as such. They grow and change and sometimes what works doesn’t work as they get older because they’ve changed. We learn to accept that because they’re individuals and deserve to be treated humanely. Things go much more smoothly in our home now that we’ve really we must deal with the ebbs and tides of change, now that we’ve changed his diet, and now that we’ve reduced medications. Do we still have rough patches? Yeah, you bet. But we work through them differently and they get better much more quickly. Consider changing from fixing a problem to working with your child or family member to make things better. Figure out what’s triggering a behavior and work to reduce the trigger instead.
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If I had any advice for a parent whose child was nearly diagnosed with autism, I would say love your child with all you’ve got. Even if your child doesn’t like hugs and kisses (thankfully mine does), if you love, your child will feel it. The Beatles said in their popular song from the ‘60s “All You Need is Love,” and maybe that’s not all you need, but it goes a long way. If everything you do truly comes from a place of gentle, caring love, the rest will fall into place. Love your child like you would any other child, and be the best parent you can for your child. That’s all you really need to do.
Sunny Saturday Link-up
I would love to see you participate in this week’s link-up! I’m adding in something special this week. If you’d like to link up one of your favorite Pinterest pins from this week, add it to the link-up below this week’s blog link-up after following me on Pinterest. Come on in!!
This Week’s Prompts
- It all changed in the blink of an eye… (finish writing)
- Write about the biggest trigger for stress in your life.
- Inspiration can strike anywhere. Write about something you read, heard or saw that inspired you.
Next Week’s Prompts
- When you think about all the roles in your life, which one would you keep if you had to give them all up but one.
- Write about something you do, even when you don’t feel like it.
- Which traffic sign would best illustrate your life now? Why?
Add your blog entry here!
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Originally posted 2015-05-16 00:20:00.