Sunday, April 1, 2012
I remember the day like it was yesterday.
I was sitting in a doctors office, overlooking the ocean, my 4 kids were running around the room. The visiting doctor, declared, "Mrs. Turner, your son is on the Autism spectrum."
I was in shock. I walked away without a word. I somehow got my kids in the car. Drove home. And cried. My husband was deployed. I had to call him and tell him. I felt alone. Scared, lost, overwhelmed. I held Ivan and cried. The only thing I remember from that night, was an awful headache from crying so much. He was only three years old.
What I thought were "only" developmental delays turned out to be so much more.
I read blogs, websites, books, articles...anything I could get my hands on.
I got him enrolled into a special ed pre-k program.
Every day was a challenge. Every day was different. Things that had worked one day, no longer helped. Taking him anywhere was a nightmare. He had to use the same plate and cup every day. No one else could use them.He lined everything up. If he went off his routine, he couldn't handle it. He would only eat certain foods. He didn't speak. He was 5 years old before I heard him say " I love you, Mom." It was 1 step forward, 5 steps back.
4 years later, Ivan is a talkative, fun and adorable 7 year old. I have learned so much from him. I have learned so much about patience, love, being judgemental and accepting help.
Today, every day is a challenge. Every day is different. He still wants to use the same plate and cup. He still will only wear red. He will still only eat certain foods. He struggles with talking to kids. He struggles with his temper. He struggles when his world isn't in order. He doesn't know limits and has the scars to prove it.
But he has grown up. He has made amazing progress. He is a math whiz, an amazing Lego builder, he runs everywhere he goes. He loves McDonalds cheeseburgers. He gives the best squeeze hugs. He is a good reader. He is trying to convince me to let him walk home from school by himself because he is a big boy.
My sweet boy has been judged because of his behavior. Behavior he can't help. He has been laughed at. He has been called names.
I have been judged by my "lack of discipline" or "letting him get away with everything". It is hurtful.
If his diagnosis has taught me one thing, it is to not judge others. We never know what they are dealing with.
April 2nd is Autism Awareness day. Autism Speaks is asking us to "light it up" for the day. If you feel the desire, wear blue. Change your facebook profile picture to the one above. Have your kids wear blue. Have blueberry muffins. If you want to learn more about autism, and lighting it up, you can find it here
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Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org