April is Autism Awareness Month. I am aware of autism every single day so here is the story of our journey so far:
I am the mom of some seriously amazing little boys. Yes, I am just a little biased. ;) But being a typical mom I also panic when something isn't quite right with one of the munchkins. Fevers, colds, boo-boos always make me nervous but thankfully they are almost always temporary. Almost.
There is no way you are ever prepared to deal with something that will have a negative affect on your children for the rest of their lives. Even the good stuff can throw you for a loop. But already having have one kiddo on the spectrum (Ethan is a very high-functioning Aspie), you would think I couldn't have been shocked by much. Guess again.
Ethan actually went through Early Intervention Services and tested out by the time he was three. I was a little thrown by his Aspie dx a couple of years later but it was do-able. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, prepared me for Aden's. I still remember the day I realized he had not said a single word to me in two days. He had recurrent ear infections so I could only hope he had another one and just couldn't hear me. Yeah. Right. After a trip to the doctor that gave him a clean bill of health, that sweet little voice didn't return. Then I realized he wouldn't look at me anymore. Actually, he wouldn't look at anyone or even acknowledge someone else unless you were right in his face. The final heart-sinking moment was when he started randomly rocking. He rocked to the point he busted out the back of an overstuffed chair in the living room. I remember standing in the doorway between the kitchen and living room just watching him until I ran to my bathroom because I couldn't fight off being sick when it finally clicked about what was wrong with my Mr. Chunky Monkey.
After the shock wore off, the phone calls and appointments began. An endless string of hearing checks, evaluations, paperwork as tall as Aden, etc. Even though I already knew in my head that he was autistic, I still got physically ill every time I read how delayed he was/is and then when he was officially diagnosed I had one major pity party after seeing it in black and white.
However, due to some AMAZING therapists I began to slowly but surely get my son back. It has taken over a year but Aden is able to say a few words and is learning sign language to fill in the gaps. He will now look at me again and even laughs at his goofy big brothers. :) He loves to be tickled and will do just about anything for apples. He will notice us in the same room. Well, most of the time. And the best part? I got to hear him say 'mommy' again for the first time in almost two years.
I hope someday he is talking so much we will be begging him to shut up. I hope someday the big world around him isn't so scary that he covers his ears, tightly closes his eyes, and tries to make it go away. I hope I get to someday hear him add the words 'I love you' to his verbal vocabulary. I hope someday he will be able to hold down a job, get married, and make beautiful babies with his big brown eyes. I hope he becomes the very best Aden he could ever be, no matter what his future holds.
In the meantime I will be ecstatic over those smiles that can melt steel. I will treasure every single hug and kiss he gives (especially since he didn't do that for a long time either). I will be his biggest cheerleader when he masters a new sign or reaches a milestone most children his age reached years ago. I will be thankful for this very special -in every sense of the word- boy that has taught me more than I could ever teach him. I will be thankful that for some reason God chose me to be his mom.