Today is ONE year since we received Beth’s diagnosis. It was November 1, 2011 when the developmental pediatrician handed us the big packet, and there it was: “Autistic Disorder” in black and white. I asked as many questions as I could think of, we took our packet and left to go meet Marie for lunch. I remember eating lunch at the Daley Center and handing Marie the packet through teary-eyes. I was trying to be brave, but it was sinking in, and I cried the rest of the day. We were prepared and we knew the diagnosis was coming, but seeing it on paper, and reading their observations and assessments of 11-18months across the board for my 34month old was too much. I felt as though I had been kicked in the chest and simply could not catch my breath. Fortunately I was able to pull myself together before we picked up the girls, and the rest of the tears that came were shed strictly in the shower, or in my pillow where no one could see or hear. I did not know what our plan was, but there was one thing I knew for sure, I would NOT let our girl think there was something wrong with her. We would make “Autistic Disorder” seem like the greatest thing since sliced bread, because she needed to know what a blessing she was, how proud we were of her, and how much we loved her. Thus Our path changed and Our journey began to wind through the miraculous Special Needs world.
Fast-forward to a year later and life is a rollercoaster ride filled with storms, all shades of the rainbow and lots of Au-Someness. Beth has progressed so much in the past year; all I can do is marvel at her and her amazing mind, body & soul. Her private Speech-Language Therapist and Occupational Therapist who have been with her since we started in Early Intervention in July 2011 also cannot believe her level of achievement in the past year. Her expressive and communicative language has blossomed beyond hope in this short time. Her SLT actually said she would put her around 27months overall, perhaps even higher in some areas. That is HUGE, in a year’s time she went from an 11month old to a 27month old in Speech. She is learning to recognize her sensory needs and finding ways to fulfill them on her own. She is not only tolerating Anne, but actually playing with her, and showing concern for her. I am finally seeing the sisterly bond that I prayed for every night, when Beth could not even stand to have Anne in the same room as her. She is initiating and engaging in imaginative play, which is so wonderful to see, sometimes all I can do is smile to avoid sobbing in joy. I suppose I could go on forever, because I see so much progress, but the last thing I will say is that she is also excelling at school. She has FRIENDS there, and she talks about them at home. Her teachers tell me how well she is doing in learning, playing, sharing, and just being a 3year old girl. My heart could burst from the pride, joy and thankfulness I have in Beth, and all the extraordinary people who are assisting her in navigating this world, while letting her be herself.
Life is not always sunshine and rainbows, and we have some really rough days, but we take the good with the bad. There are days that I am angry, frustrated, sad, and pretty much feel like the sky is falling. Then I pray, talk to Marie, or simply cuddle/play with my girls and truly listen to them (words, actions, their entire being) and realize if we did not have the hard times, we would never truly appreciate the Au-some times. Our family has made sacrifices, we have changed, and we have grown. Sometimes we make the right choices, and sometimes we make the wrong ones; although I believe everything happens for a reason, so I am not sure “wrong” is the right term. Perhaps it is better to say that most times we take the direct route to the next path in our journey, but frequently we also take the very long scenic route. We are far from perfect, but we are making progress, while enjoying everything life has to offer and that is all that matters. Our family is Autism Proud and today we celebrate our 1year anniversary of being Different Not Less!
Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.