Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Three years ago, I sat in an office at Rady's Children's Hospital in San Diego, waiting to hear the news from the child psychologist that would change our world.
"Your child has Autism."
Going into the appointment that day, I was already 99% certain about the news we would hear. I'd done the research and knew my sweet boy had MANY red flags. He didn't respond to his name, his eye contact was minimal, he'd lost much of the language he'd once had (and what remained wasn't functional), didn't respond to any questions or directions, and didn't play appropriately with his toys. (At that point, he was big into Cars-a shocker if you saw him now, he's terrified- and would group them together by who was together during particular scenes in the movie.) But still, even going in knowing doesn't prepare you for that final diagnosis. In that moment, I went through a large range of emotions. From relief that we had the answer, to fear of what the future would hold, to sadness for the hardships my son would now face, to guilt wondering if it was something I had done, to determination to do whatever it took to give my boy the best future possible. Telling my husband, who was away at training in Oklahoma for 6 weeks was one of the hardest things I've had to tell anyone. I felt very alone and more than anything wished my husband could have been there during that moment. I'll admit I shed many tears over the diagnosis, not because I was upset that I had a child with Autism. He was still the same child whom I loved unconditionally, just as he was. It was more the uncertainty that came with the diagnosis.
Three years later, some of that uncertainty still remains. While I strongly believe my son will do amazing things with his life, and be full capable of living and working on his own, the truth is we really don't know what the future holds. What I do know is that when I compare Shaun today to that little boy that first went in for that evaluation, the difference is astounding! I am daily amazed at how very far he has come. Though simple, and often requiring a lot of effort and patience, I love that I get to have real conversations with my sweet boy. I love hearing him say, 'I'm pretending with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head' (though his play is still not where it should be either). I love hearing him read everything. I love seeing a bit of how his mind works and how incredibly intellegent he is. And more than anything, I love hearing my boy tell me, unprompted- 'Mommy, I love you!' It's the simple things that many take for granted that mean so very much to me.
Like I said, I still don't really know what Shaun's future holds, but I know that he is an amazing little boy and I am daily blessed to have him in my life. Three years from now, I hope to be able to look back at this rough patch we've hit and stand amazed at the progress as I have in these first three years. God has amazing plans for my son, and I know this is still only the beginning of our journey.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."- Jeremiah 29:11
"As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him."- John 9:1-3