It’s the phrase that a Mommy never wants to hear. It can tear out your heart and smash your hopes and dreams for your child into a million little pieces that no glue could hope to repair. You sit numb. You sit in awe. You ask yourself, what did I do wrong? You look at this child as if in a fog as the teacher tells you, “Mrs. Shaw, your son has autism.” I didn’t cry, at least not there—I don’t cry in public. How was my sweet loving little boy going to cope? How was I going to cope? What was the next step? The only things I had heard about Autism was that it was bad. The kids were not able to speak, were alone, were in special ed classes, needed constant help, had terrible temper tantrums, and would need help way into adulthood. I was not happy with this. I kept asking God, why?
In the beginning, I still felt like I was in a haze. My mom helped me plan out steps to help Isaac. She has been my constant in all of this. She understands what I am going through on the daily basis—and I could have no greater cheerleader. My dad is Issacs best friend. Dad is always there to help. I don’t think I could cope with out him. He helps me so much. They both do, I am so very blessed to have them as parents. My husband works so many hours, so I can stay home and take care of our kids. But when he is home, he is my rock—a constant. He helps me with the kids, with house work—and he understands. I don’t think I could make it through with out my support team. They are amazing.
When people started hearing about Isaac and his Autism, it was so infuriating to me. Because outside of my support team, no one understands—not really. I have never felt or been so alone. Friends that I have had for a long time, I began not to want to hang out with anymore. I hated their pity and I hated that they think that my son will amount to nothing—or maybe that’s too far—that my son will never be normal or have a normal life. They may have not said that right out, but by their ‘sympathetic’ statements I knew. I hate pity. Why couldn’t they see the improvements that I could? Why could they not understand that Autism is not a death sentence. It’s not a life is over as you know it sign. While I have to amend my life in some ways to care for my son, I try to create a normal life for him. And I am a firm believer in pushing him out of his comfort zone.
As I look back now with four years behind me in the rear-view, I am so proud of how far Isaac has come. He walks though the halls at church and says, “Good morning!” and hands out high fives to anyone who will pay him attention. He loves to hug people. He loves people. I don’t think that he has ever met a stranger, that’s a good and bad thing. He can carry an intelligent conversation. He has about 15 bible verses to memory. His mind is amazing. His disposition is one of sweet loving innocence. He is an amazing little boy—excuse me a big boy (he corrects me when I say little boy). He loves his routine. He will be going to kindergarten, while he will still need some help in the class—his teachers says he is doing a really great job. I can’t tell you the joy I have from the progress he has had and continues to show. It’s truly amazing. And people are still surprised at his conversation progress. That still baffles me.
Autism has such a dark stigma associated with it. These kids are not stupid, quite the opposite. They are super smart and usually excel beyond genius in at least one area. Some are not able to talk, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they have no intelligence or personality—once they find an outlet to converse you will be amazed, I promise. As social issues go, I am afraid that will always be a challenge for them, but social behaviors can be taught. Autism doesn’t scare me as much as it used to. I know more, and I have a great support team and I have great professional working with me and him. I know Isaac will be ok, he has come so far already. He is such a brave boy, I feel like I am raising my hero. I can’t even begin to express how proud I am of him.
With that being said, the road to now has not been easy—but it has been worth it to see Isaac thriving as much as he is. I think that is due to several factors, one being diet. I have put Isaac on a gluten free diet. I really do think it has made a difference. I also limit his dairy intake. It seems to help him stay more focused and help him to stem less. As for me, all this is a big factor in why I want to lose weight and get healthy. My mom says he will be lost without me. She is right, so I have to take the time and make an effort to stop killing myself with food. So that is why I do what I do.
Happy Tuesday! Remember things are not as bad as they seem in the beginning.
Written by: Amy Shaw