April is Autism Awareness month, but for me it’s a lifelong celebration.
I am the mother of two boys, a 14-year-old and an almost three-year-old. My eldest son was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. For those who aren’t too familiar with autism, it is defined as a serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact. This definition was an immediate red flag for me during my son’s early toddler years.
While other children his age were beginning to say simple words and even sentences, he remained mute (finally speaking his first words at the age of five). After countless doctors and tests, they finally dropped the diagnosis on me that my child was indeed autistic. I was sad, hurt and in disbelief that my child wouldn’t be “normal” like other children. With so many highs and lows on our journey, what I first felt was a hardship, I have now learned was an asset to my life.
After 11 years of living with this developmental disorder, I have learned so many life lessons from my child and this experience. Maybe you can relate…
With years of questioning if this was my fault and being upset wondering why this happened to my child, I learned that this experience was nothing to be ashamed of. After deep prayer and understanding of his diagnosis, I learned to understand that this experience strengthened me both as a mother and as a woman.
My son is extremely confident! He explains to his friends that he has autism, letting them know that there’s no huge difference between them. He also tells his friends that even if they were autistic, it’s ok to be different.
I am forever grateful that I was chosen to be the mother of a child with autism. It has taught me patience, confidence and understanding. My outlook on life has been forever changed because of this experience.
I have definitely learned that patience is a virtue. Working on language, social skills and just everyday tasks, can be hard for a child with autism. It takes focus and understanding to get certain things across, but once mastered it’s extremely rewarding.
From the beginning of our journey with autism, I had faith that everything would be ok. With prayer and the hard work of our family, teachers and doctors, my son has excelled in both school and in life.
It’s a very humbling experience to deal with this situation. Some parents take having healthy and disorder-free children for granted.
I like to use our experience with autism as a testimony for other families that are dealing with this issue–from the beginning stages of uncertainty to the realization that everything will be perfectly ok.
I love to spread the word that autism is not a burden, it’s a blessing in disguise.
Let’s celebrate those we know facing autism! What have you learned from others?