When I had Carter, I was so excited to watch him grow and reach his milestones. I couldn’t wait for him to sit up, then I couldn’t wait for him to crawl, then walk, and talk. He started off hitting his milestones in about the same time frame as other kids, except for talking. Carter is 3 and a half years old and I’m still waiting for him to talk. All I want his to hear his sweet voice. I want to hear him say all the cute and crazy things kids say. I’m not sure how long I’ll be waiting, which is the tough part.
When Carter went to the doctor for is two year old check up, the doctor referred me to a program called Early Steps that provided speech therapy and other forms of therapy. I was told Carter had characteristics of Autism.
It sounded scary. My kid has something with a title and has to see special people to get help. I started looking up all kinds of stuff on Autism. This was all new to me. I went from a slight denial (nothing’s wrong with him, he’ll be ok) to trying to be more proactive in getting him the help he was going to need. I drove myself crazy with research and books. I was exhausted: mentally, physically, and emotionally. I had to read all the books about how parents coped and got through it. I wanted to know about everyone else’s experiences. I had to know everything about Autism and what I was up against.
In a nutshell, Autism is complex disorders of brain development characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal & nonverbal communication, repetitive behaviors, and difficulties in motor coordination. Many with Autism excel in visual skills, music, math, and art. It is estimated that 1 out of 54 boys are diagnosed with Autism in the U.S.
Since Carter’s first evaluation, it’s been a whirlwind of emotions and busy schedules. We had more evaluations, phone calls, interviews, decisions to make, surveys to take, questionnaires to fill out, appointments to attend, people to see, etc. etc. etc. I’ve been so overwhelmed at times that I wondered when I would just break down. Sometimes I’m happy and optimistic, then I’m sad and pessimistic. I’m motivated and inspired. I’m down and out. I’m angry and bitter. I’m content and thankful. I’m stressed and anxious. I’m relaxed and calm. I’m hopeful, I’m hopeless. I try to teach Carter things at home and sometimes it’s a hit and sometimes it’s a miss. When he cries and throws a fit and can’t tell me what’s wrong, it’s frustrating for both of us. I feel so bad for him, because he can’t communicate to me. I feel bad for him, because he has to go through so much. There are times when I totally lose it and I feel bad afterwards. It’s my job to try to understand him, to try to stay calm and teach him how to show me what he wants or needs.
When my stress hits the highest point, I’m reminded that Carter is a very happy kid. He’s sweet (when he’s not being a terror), he’s happy, he’s funny, he’s healthy, and he’s here. He’s my baby and I love him just as much as ever. He’s teaching me patience (a big work in progress), understanding, strength, and motivation. I’m not the only one experiencing Autism and it’s difficulties and uncertainty. Carter’s dad, his sister, and our family have experienced a lot of new things with Autism. It’s been difficult. The only thing that matters is that Carter is happy & healthy and he’s making improvements. So you know what?
We’re over being stressed by it!
Now onto another difficulty……. potty training (YIKES!)