“Maybe I have autism!” My eight year old cried out when feeling frustrated with his own emotions. He was relating his frustration and hesitance to share with the behaviors of his younger brother that has been recently diagnosed. It hit me then that we as a family have not properly communicated the diagnosis of our four year old son. We received the diagnosis, yet have been surging forward with our lives as if everything is normal. We have not stopped to address the diagnosis and make sure that we all have understanding.
I had a breakdown last week while on the phone with my cousin; crying so hard I could barely breathe. Starting sentences like “what if he never….what will happen if….I just want him to understand….” It is apparent I have not stopped to realize the depth of my grief.
With the birth of each of my children, the doctors and nurses confirmed my feelings that they were perfect, healthy, and wonderful. I have never stopped seeing my children this way. I have dealt with various diagnoses: speech delays, asthma, countless illnesses, and now autism. Each time we are presented with a “plan”; a “cure”. But the autism feels different. It is different. I have selfishly had dreams for my children. I want them to play sports, games, learn to dance, swim, ride horses, and graduate from high school. I look forward to them becoming successful individuals and valuable citizens. I want them to have friends and feel loved.
Autism is different. There are so many questions and unknowns. Hence all the half and unanswered questions that swim in my head all day long. I ignore the “why” questions. Anyone can read ridiculous articles on what causes autism. I read one last week that circumcision causes autism. I laughed out loud.
One of my therapists taught me not to worry so much about why things happen, but find out what I can do now. We have a wonderful support team for our son, I am so grateful. He is surrounded by love and comfort right now.
But I registered him for kindergarten. What will that be like? Will he have to go to the specialty class or can he be integrated now? The goal is to have him in a general classroom by first grade. What if he never gets to the general classroom? He might have to do two years of kindergarten. That’s okay. If he gets hurt or sad at school, will he be able to tell me? Will he understand? It breaks my heart to think of him being alone, overwhelmed, and scared.
“He will be okay.” I tell myself over and over. I don’t know what I’m doing but I trust the process. I’m grieving. He won’t be like the other kids, ever. He’s an amazing kid, but not everyone will see that. I appreciate those that see his light. He may be able to play a sport, we don’t know. He may be able to make friends, we don’t know. He may be able to learn everything he needs to survive. We don’t know.
I remind myself of what he has done. He is potty trained yay! He sleeps awesome, yay! He is healthy and happy yay! He is learning to spell his name and definitely recognizes it yay! He talks enough that we can understand most of the time yay!
My anxiety lies in the unknown. My peace resides in the present. The present contains love, smiles, emotional roller-coasters, and lots and lots of the mess that goes along with childhood.