Monday, June 8, 2015

What Autism Means To Me

In June 2004 I gave birth to a handsome baby boy. The doctor said "This is the prettiest baby I have ever seen"! He looked amazing, he had good color and didn't have a lot of that white stuff on him. 

My son was a really calm baby. He didn't cry a lot and was just a very good baby. He would sleep and loud noise didn't seem to startle him. I noticed changes in his sleeping patterns before he reached age one. I also noticed he wasn't reaching milestones as quick as my oldest son did. I thought about how each child is different and how some just reach those milestones faster than others. 

By the time he was almost two years old, he couldn't talk. He would grab my hand and go point to what he wanted. So I took him to the doctor thinking he might be deaf. His regular pediatrician sent him to a hearing specialist, all checked out, then they sent him to another specialist. This one was the kicker. This is the day that I heard the word autism. When I heard that word, I cried...and I was a bit hysterical. I knew what "autism" was, everyone I had ever heard of with it couldn't speak and lived with their parents the rest of their lives. That was all I knew about autism. 

The first few years of his life were very rough. He was immediately enrolled in speech therapy and I saw a lot of progress within just a few weeks of him taking it. He had to go twice a week for months. I had also noticed that he never looked us in the eyes. He just had a hard time with eye contact and he would line his toys up in perfect succession. There were also some times when he would have what other people refer to as a tantrum but it was really a meltdown from to much stimulation. It was hard for him to communicate what was wrong and he couldn't tell me that it was too bright, noisy, colorful, etc. 

As he has grown his social skills are getting better. He gives me a hugs now, he talks to us more and he interacts with the kids at school which warms my heart. There are so many obstacles he will have to face and I wish I could do it for him but I can't. I talk to him sometimes like he is a little man. I say there are four things you need to know how to do in this life and that's read, write, do math and make change. Because if somebody can screw you over on your money they will. 

In school, some years he gets really awesome teachers. His third grade teacher loved him and she was so good to him. She genuinely wanted my son to succeed and when he sees her, his face lights up and he will give her a little wave. She asks him how much do you love me and he will say 20% and then she will laugh and say I thought it was more. Then he will say okay 50% but not as much as my daddy. Teachers like her make me feel like he is going to be okay because they took an interest in him as well as all her other students and didn't just put my child in the back of the class to get him out of the way. (That has happened to him) He is pulled out of class for an hour each day to work with the special education teacher one on one for reading and writing and that helps him a whole lot. 

My greatest hope for my son is that he succeed and be able to live on his own, get married and have a job. I know he can have this because I am his mother! And I believe in him! 

(I got this puzzle piece picture off the website listed above.)