Hindsight is 20/20. We all know this. Last week I surprised myself- giving advice and sharing my experience with another mom who is just beginning a journey of her own to figure out if her son is touched by ASD. Even if your family isn't touched by Autism, read on. The message can pertain to any family facing adversity or challenge.
I knew in my heart months before an official diagnosis was given to R, that it was Autism. There was really no doubt in my mind. I started grieving before the diagnosis was given because I was scared as hell. Your world is turned inside out and upside down before you even hear the words or see it on paper. Some try to pray it away. Some make excuses as to why it "couldn't" be Autism. Some believe it certainly could not happen to their child. Guess what? All of that is normal.
Here is a snippet of a few things I wrote to this awesome mama. I think some of us could use a reminder, and there may be some of us who may need to hear this for the first time.
"I struggled for a long time and there are still days that I struggle. If there's one thing I've learned on this journey, it's that Autism isn't a life sentence. They just view the world through different lenses, and we have to adapt the way we approach parenting, education, and just life in general."
I surprised myself with my "wisdom", and realized that I've come a long way since those months before and after R's diagnosis. Some days are hard- really, really hard. There are also so many days that are amazing- full of smiles, accomplishments, and pure joy!
When R was diagnosed, my world came crashing down. I felt like he was served the death sentence because we had a list of "nevers" in front of us, and all of a sudden the identity of our family was changed forever. In those early days, I thought this meant that everything we ever wanted for ourselves and our children was thrown out the window.
The dreams we dreamed when I was pregnant with the twins are still dreams, they are just a little different. We've had to do a little tweaking, but we don't ever rule any dreams out. I hope some day my husband is able to take R to a football game, teach him how to throw a baseball, and do all the "boy" stuff dads and sons do together. These things might take a little longer to happen, but that's ok. I believe deep in my heart that they will- we're just on a different timeline than a lot of other families.
I will never hold either of my children to a lower standard- no matter the challenge. I believe everyone is capable of doing what they want to do, you just have to believe. Believe in yourself. Believe in your children. Believe in your family. It may not be easy, but do it anyway.
Every family faces challenges- big and small. The challenges we face on a daily basis can have an effect on our goals and dreams, but we should never dismiss them. You may need to take a detour to get there, but you can get there. I promise.