I’ve been an autism parent for about half of my life now. My oldest was diagnosed in 2005 and my two youngest followed about six years later. I remember very vividly what it was like to hear each of my kids receive their diagnosis.
I cried at each of the appointments because I was scared for kids and honestly, a bit ignorant as to what it meant to be diagnosed as being autistic.
When my oldest was diagnosed, it was pretty obvious that we were dealing with something but we just didn’t know what. My oldest was suffering from a very rare, regressive form of autism called Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. He developed typically, hitting all his milestones and then it feels as if around his 4th birthday, he was put to bed one person and woke up another. The regression was significant enough that it completely changed his personality and I ultimately had to grieve the loss of the child I knew and get to know that child that was.
When my two youngest were diagnosed, I was totally caught off guard because I didn’t see it. I was so used to what autism was for my oldest, and they didn’t present the same way.
I cried upon hearing their diagnosis because I didn’t understand that every child on the autism spectrum is unique. I had mistakenly assumed that receiving a diagnosis of autism, meant that my two youngest would end up going through what their big brother went through and I couldn’t bare the thought of going through that again.
I would soon learn that if you meet one kid with autism, you’ve met one kid with autism. That basically means that every child on the autism spectrum is just as unique as every child who isn’t.
Each of my kids are amazing in their own right. They each have their own set of strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, things that make them happy and things that make them sad.
Fast forward to 2021. My oldest is now 21 years old and my two youngest are 12 and 15. Each of my kids are brilliant and beautiful in their own way. They each bring a different kind of light to the table and make the world a better place.
The reason I share this brief story is because I know what it feels like when you first hear your child is on the autism spectrum. I know how scary that can be, especially if you’re not familiar with what autism really is.
I want you all to know that while autism can, and often does present many challenges, it’s also been the single most rewarding experience of my life.
Over the years, my kids have taught me more than I could ever teach them. I’ve learned about patience, and slowing life down so I don’t lose sight of the little things. I’ve adjusted my expectations and I wouldn’t change my kids for anything in the world.
You can read our journey from start to present by visiting theautismdad.com. I’m always happy to help in any way I can.
#Autism #AutismParent #AutismAwarenessMonth #Advocacy