I used to blog everyday at one point during what I call “the height” of Carter’s Autism. During the time of the potty training woes, the shoe debacle, and the meltdowns heard round the world (his and mine). We’ll never forget the number twos that had to be cleaned (in lots of different places) and the constant cleaning of sheets from the accidents in bed. We’ll never forget the panic attack that arose from the lost black croc shoe because Carter refused to wear any other kind of shoes even if it was another kind of black croc. Of course, we’ll always remember the meltdowns that ensued in private and in public places (like Target those few times) because of a lack of understanding, communication, or just a refusal to do something. And then there were the looks-which came in a variety-from pity, to understanding, to disgust, to judgement, to disbelief; you name it and we’ve seen it….who could forget that?
For the most part I’m immune to other people and their thoughts. I don’t really care what they think or feel because honestly this isn’t about them. It’s about my kid. My family. Our feelings and our thoughts. My focus and energy is on Carter. Not on giving explanations or apologies.
It’s been a long journey, that’s for sure. A journey that we weren’t at all prepared for and still fully aren’t. We’re always learning. Always growing. Sometimes frustrated. Always loving. With the bad comes good. With the stress comes celebrations. With the unknown comes answers. Slowly, perhaps, but it arrives.
Carter’s diagnosis came at age 2. He’ll be 7 this April. 5 years in. 5 years of analyzing every little thing. 5 years of worrying. 5 years of celebrating the smallest of victories. There’s still more of those things to come. More analyzing. More worrying. More celebrating. And that’s ok. I’ve learned to become less bitter. Less angry. Less insecure. I’ve learned to take the bad with the good. To roll with the punches. To be stronger. That doesn’t mean I always am. But just as Carter has grown, so have I. He still has his moments and so do I. We’re just much better at dealing with it all. We’re much better at patience.
So, with growing pains, comes gains. Carter uses the bathroom by himself, he can brush his teeth (for the most part), he can dress himself with just a little help, he can say some things (like I love you), he can write, he can count, and he wears different shoes and clothes! There’s so many things Carter does and is in the process of doing that he had struggled with before. The latest little celebration was his school picture. The first school picture he took was in preK. He was scared. He was crying. He didn’t want to sit. He didn’t want to be touched. And you can definitely see it in his face. In his eyes.
I didn’t get his school picture taken last year because I didn’t want to terrify the kid. But this year, since Carter has been making so much progress and has been so much more daring, I decided to give it a whirl. And when I was told how much fun he was having when people were telling him to smile and trying to get him to do all kinds of stuff it made me feel so good. I couldn’t wait to see how the picture came out. When Carter and I looked at them together he cracked up laughing. And he just kept laughing. It made me so happy. My eyes watered. I wanted to cry good tears, but I held it together. And we just laughed together. We hugged each other and I wasn’t sure that he understood how amazing this was. What a big deal this was. He was happy. Amused. Enjoying himself. And that was all that mattered.