Thursday, December 31, 2015
When my son was first diagnosed, one of our therapists put me in touch with another Mom who was further into their journey than we were. It was an opportunity to connect with someone that once stood in my shoes. They were also well into the ABA therapy program that we were looking into. I was raw and sad. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know what to ask. I just knew I needed help and understanding from someone that had been there.
It was a nice meeting in a coffee shop. I don't think I cried, which at the time was a huge accomplishment. We talked about therapy. We talked about other networks to connect with Autism families. But one thing that that stood out to me was she wasn't sure when she should tell her son he had Autism. He was doing well. He was mainstreamed in school, played soccer on the weekend, and overcame a lot of his earlier struggles. But her biggest worry at the time was explaining to her son he was different and labeled.
At the time I could not relate to that problem. My son wasn't talking at all! Having to explain to him what autism was seemed liked a daydream.
That was over four years ago.
Now I find myself on the other side of the coffee table.
I'm being called and asked questions about therapy, what worked for us, and to be the person that once stood in their shoes. And I'm honestly flattered that other people are asking me the questions I had when I felt so alone.
Except our journey continues. We are just at a different crossroads further along the path. And now I wonder... when will I have to explain what Autism is to my son? I think that day may be soon.
Our therapy looks so different than what it looked like when we started. And we've started to adjust to JJ's needs. Instead of "table times" and learning to speak, he needs more play dates and peer play. He still struggles socially with peers. But he is getting so much better with it.
And it makes me wonder what lies ahead. How will middle school and high school be for him? Will he continue to have friendships? Will he find a sport, music or art form that he becomes passionate about? Will he ever learn to ride a two-wheeler? Where will he go to college (because I KNOW that will happen for him). Will he always live with us? Will he always want to? What will he be when he grows up?
And guess what.... these are questions ALL parents ask themselves for their children. Not just Autism parents. When did we get here? When did the tables turn? It all seems like a blur.
So while this year comes to a close, I wonder what the New Year will bring for our boy, for our family, and selfishly, for me. I hope that other families continue to feel comfortable to continue calling us... because one day they too will be on the other side. And it feels good knowing I can be a small part in their journey, just as others have played a small part in ours.
Happy New Year All!