Saturday, 07 April 2012
I remember the day of my son’s diagnosis of Autism as if it were yesterday. The tone of the doctor’s voice, the silence in the room, the words “lifelong disability, no cure, I’m sorry” still sting when I allow myself to reflect on that day. But I have thought, on occasions too numerous to count, that someone should’ve mentioned that THIS would be part of the package when my child was diagnosed with Autism.
Someone forgot to mention that I would listen to my child’s simple utterances, or attempted approximations, as if he was a world leader giving the speech of a lifetime. I could never have imagined the worth of a single word despite the fact that I may never hear it again.
Someone forgot to mention that when my son was finally potty trained at age 9 there would be few people that would understand the significance of such an accomplishment, and even fewer that I could actually share it with. Accomplishments of any size, their true worth known only to me, would bring quiet celebrations between my son and I.
Someone should have mentioned that Autism is messy! That wallpaper’s meant to be shredded, bathrooms are designed to be flooded, walls are bare in order to smear stuff on them, washable paint really isn’t, and that most food will actually be crushed or dropped on the floor.
Any parent can readily recall what it felt like the first time they held their child for the first time after birth. In my opinion there is no better feeling in the world. Someone should have mentioned that each time your child with Autism initiates or engages in a reciprocal hug, that feeling that you had when you held them for the first time comes back, time and time again.
I wish someone would’ve mentioned that Autism is extremely expensive! Doctors, therapists, medications, supplements, conferences, and sensory equipment are only the tip of the iceberg. I could not have guessed that it would be my child’s disability which allowed people to cross our path in life that otherwise would not have, and that those people would respond to a child in need with such love and generosity.
Finally, what they forgot to mention the day my son was diagnosed with Autism, is that the triumphs over his disability would far outweigh the tears, that laughter would eventually ease the sense of loss, and that sheer faith would allow me, and millions of other parents, to fall into bed exhausted each night only to get up the next day eager to discover what else they forgot to mention.