It has been about five years since my child was diagnosed with autism. I can remember watching my baby do things that I consider remarkable for that age. I can remember every milestone being achieved and some before it was considered time. I remember the day, my baby stopped responding to me when I would call the name.
I immediately started looking up symptoms. All the classic signs were present, yet, I wanted a definite answer. I did what any mother would do…Question the pediatrician, only to be told “it was normal” In my mind, I know this behavior was not normal, but being a parent with limited income, and even more of a limited knowledge of what autism was, I had to figure out what to do and I was open for suggestions. I had family members suggesting that if I pray more, things would get better. The pediatrician suggesting to place my child in a day care, but it wasn’t until I met a nurse who suggested a program for home instruction that I had somebody who suggested that my child was autistic.I received a great deal of information on that day, but because this person was not a developmental specialist, I would have to get a formal diagnoses.
It was on a Friday, in June and I remember getting lost in the city before I made it to the appointment. I had hopes that maybe, just maybe, something else was going on, however as soon as the specialist saw my baby..the words “I am certain your child has autism” came freely from her mouth. I heard it it slow motion, I felt a pain in my belly and a lump in my throat and at that moment, the unconditional love I had for my child multiplied even greater than I ever thought it would. I am a parent. I am an advocate, I am a teacher, I am a learner, I am an educator, but I am not a victim and neither is my child.
I have watch my child struggle with things that made my heart break and I have seen my child achieve accomplishments that some deemed not capable for a child with autism. You never know the measure of love you have inside until you begin to fight for somebody who means more than life to you. This journey has its share of tears, fears, and disappointments, but for every tear, I have smiled. for every fear, I found strength. For every disappointment, I have also experienced triumphs.
The news I expected was not the autism diagnoses, but a special challenge to make each day wonderful for somebody who deserves to be treated like a human being. The news I wasn’t ready to accept was not having a child with autism, but how can I be an advocate, when my voice seemed so small and unimportant. We have walks in life that we never knew we would have to endure, but one thing is certain, if it is meant for you to walk the journey, you are equipped to walk on the journey. You got this, be confident, be strong, be kind and choose to love unconditionally.