Sunday, April 4, 2010

Autism Awareness Month

Yeah, I have not posted in awhile. I have no defense for that. Life has been busy, and I have not been in the blogosphere as much as I should be. I will tell you that I will try to do better. Hopefully I haven't lost y'all completely. That being said, this month is pretty special to me.

Three years ago in May 2007, my life (as well as my whole family's) changed forever. For certain reasons, my mother could no longer watch our three children while we were at work . As luck would have it, a lady that I knew from church had some openings in her daycare. The first day when I went to pick them up, I was nervous. Were they nice to the other kids? Did they fit in with them? They were all under five, and had never been in a daycare setting. I did not expect what came next.

When I walked through the door, the daycare provider said she had some things she wanted to discuss with me. Uh-oh, I thought. Who got in trouble? We sat at her table, and this is the one-sided conversation we had.

"I noticed a few things about your daughter today. She seemed very nervous, and spent the first half of the day flapping her hands and walking on her tip-toes. She kept repeating the dialogue of kids cartoons over and over. My daughter is a special education teacher, and I called and discussed this with her. I think your daughter maybe Autistic."

What do you say when someone says this to you? I don't know. I don't remember much about the rest of our talk. I came home and immediately got on the computer. What is Autism, anyway? I knew next to nothing. Someone said Autism, the only reference I had was Rainman. I spent the next few hours going through the signs or markers of Autism. No, she can't have Autism. But the more I read, the more I saw the things that my daughter did throughout the day. Telling her Dad was another hurdle. You can't tell a Daddy that something could be wrong with their princess without some resistance and denial.

It took several months and lots of testing before we found out that, yes, our daughter does have Autism. She is very high functioning, and three years later, it would be difficult for most people to walk into her classroom and say, "Yep, that's the child that is Autistic." But it was, and will continue to be a struggle. Socialization is her big issue (as it is with almost all children with Autism). She is our joy, our sunshine, our princess. And she is perfect, just as she is!

I cry when I tell anyone this story about our journey with Autism. It was scary for the first few months, and especially the first week. I worried so much about our daughter's future. What would having Autism mean for her? My question for anyone with any "expertise" was always,"Will she be able to grow up, and be whatever she wants to be?" I know that they can't see into the future, but I wanted reassurance. I know now that there are so many people that have one form of Autism or another, and they have done just fine. Bill Gates, anyone?

I tell you our story because I want everyone to know about Autism. Chances are you know someone with Autism. Just know that they are: