The doctor just blurted it out, "Your child has autism, now just get an MRI and EEG to rule out any brain damage."
Seriously that is how we got the actual diagnosis of autism for my son Charlie in 2004.
I was numb.
I was overwhelmed.
I was sad.
I didn't know what to do.
I have been an autism mom a little over 13 years now. I found out on June 25, 2004. I will never forget that day. I have the prescription of the MRI and EEG embedded in my brain forever. I have had some real highs and some real lows. It used to feel like the craziest roller coaster, but the last several years just a minor kids roller coaster. The dips aren't as steep, but we still go up and down with his progress.
I didn't sign up for this "autism mom club." I didn't even know what being an autism mom meant back in June 2004. I didn't know the things I needed to do, the patience I would need (tons), or even the hardships my family would endure on this journey.
I have learned so many things so far and I wanted to share some of them with you.
- I am not perfect.
God made me unique just like He made Charlie unique. I make mistakes. I try really hard, but I have no idea what I am doing. All I know is that as soon as Charlie got the diagnosis I learned all I could about this "autism". I copied what every single therapist did and would do at home, in the car, in the tub, wherever I could practice these skills (especially language). I am not perfect and I have tried the best I could each step of the way.
2. My son is like no other - stop comparing him.
It makes me sad that through this journey I have seen families compare their kids (saying that one child is more severe than the other or I have heard, "you don't have the issues we do"). I think this is dangerous. Yes, autism is a spectrum disorder. It looks different and affects children differently. Some children can talk but it is challenging, some don't have any words. We should not compare who has a tougher time. We are there to support one another without judgment of that. No one really knows the struggles any of us endure each day. Let's be encouraging to one another.
3. I can do it!
Before autism came in my life, I was a fighter! My testimony is one of a girl that kept fighting through various challenges. I have never given up. This came to my life and it was the first time I actually wanted to give up. What I mean by that is I wanted more for my son, another mother that could handle this. I didn't want to give up on my son, but I wanted better for him. God showed me that I am the best person for him. God chose me to help Charlie. He specifically chose me. Once I realized that I figured out I could do it! I actually could never do it on my own, but with God, I can do it!
4. I am special.
As I said earlier God chose me to be Charlie's mom. I feel so honored and humbled that I get to help my Charlie. I get to be with him through every step of the way, every step of progress. I still don't take simple skills for granted. The boy is 16 years-old now and I am still grateful he can use the bathroom on his own and he can communicate. I will never forget how hard he worked, well we worked together.
I am so proud of him of what he has achieved academically, socially, and behaviorally. He makes me laugh with some of his words and how he sees the world. He keeps reminding me about how God loves me, no strings attached, nothing I need to do. The things I have taught him like being positive, he helps me now when I am feeling a little down. He encourages me to never give up because he won't give up.
I love being an autism mom. It sharpens me every single day. I now get to help other students with disabilities and other autism moms. I love to help and serve other families. I learn so much from them and I try and help them as much as I am able. We are warrior moms, fighters, and uniquely made. Let's pray for one another and lift each other up. Who will you reach out to today?