Hey guess what?
April is World Autism Awareness Month AND today is World Autism Awareness Day! DUH!
Okay. Okay. Maybe not everyone knows, but if you have a loved one or friend with Autism, you know all about it.
In honor of this month, we celebrate our girl, Brynn. We celebrate her challenges, strengths, gifts and quirks.
Her diagnosis wasn’t a surprise. She was already diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, also referred to as SPD, at 2 years old. At that time, I was in denial. I told myself she didn’t have Autism. It is possible, after all, to have SPD without being Autistic.
Then, by her 3rd birthday, I suspected she had more going on. I knew she had Autism.
I brought it up during some of her therapy appointments and to others, just needing any kind of support in my suspicion. I didn’t get it.
“She’s too social to be Autistic,” I heard repeatedly.
What the hell does that even mean? I know I’m not an expert or a therapist, but how can you put anyone, let alone anyone on the spectrum in a single category.
It’s. Called. Autism. SPECTRUM. Disorder.
We know what spectrum means, right?
If not, google it.
Of course, when you continually hear the same thing from those I viewed as “in the know,” I began to doubt my intuition.
“You’re wrong, Melissa. People that work with Autistic children are telling you they don’t believe she’s Autistic. YOU. ARE. WRONG,” I tried to convince myself.
Meanwhile, her behavior and quirks seemed to spiral. She became aggressive, which is something we hadn’t experienced yet.
The first few times she basically kicked my ass in public. I was humiliated, afraid, and frankly, disturbed. I remember an incident when she refused to get in the car at Target and started pulling my hair and kicking me, all while onlookers just stared. Nope, not one offered to help, just stared. Once I got the kids in the car, I got in and bawled for a good 10 minutes.
I felt helpless. Hopeless. Lost.
I didn’t know what to do.
How am I supposed to parent her?
Her aggressive behavior increased, and I continued to react in all the wrong ways. I tried all kinds of methods and nothing helped.
Finally, enough was enough. The kid’s primary pediatrician listened, supported and respected my concerns. She didn’t bat an eye to refer her to a Developmental Behavior Pediatrician.
Brynn was put on a 6-month waiting list, but progress was made.
Finally, in July 2018, we had an assessment appointment set. Her assessment was maybe 30 minutes long and was diagnosed with in that 30 minutes.
I felt validated.
The feeling of validation was fleeting, though. I was oddly saddened by it. My suspicions were right and now my girl officially had the label of AUTISM.
Admittedly, I’m ashamed for feeling this way. With time and acceptance for the challenges we have and the ones that are to come, there is no reason to be saddened by such a diagnosis. Autism doesn’t define, Brynn, but it is a part of her. AND, I love and adore EVERY part of her.
Is life more challenging? Maybe, but who am I to judge? We all have challenges and we can either face them with grace or we can break down.
I choose grace.
I choose acceptance.
I choose understanding.
I choose love.
She is an incredible girl and I’m so grateful I get to be her mom.
2 thoughts on “Autism Awareness”
Brynn is so precious! I love that picture of her in the grass. Such a sweet smile.
My stepson is on the spectrum. He is 20, has a job, and is learning to live independently now; but his childhood was hard for me. He is very mellow, and we didn’t get a lot of outbursts from him. He tended to withdraw into himself and stop communicating, which was even more frustrating for me. He’s also very stubborn so when he was done trying, he was done. Homework was always a nightmare (the little bit he even had to do).
I love the point you made about it being a spectrum disorder. Each autistic person is unique and special (we all are!), and though you will see some similarities from the disorder in each person, not every child is going to behave exactly the same way.
Well said, Nicole!! Thank you for sharing about your stepson. Just like each person is different in general, every child/person on the spectrum are different.