I know you may have read the title and wondered, what is she talking about? But, it is 100% the truth.My son’s Autism diagnosis completely changed me.
As many of you know, right after my son turned 2 he was diagnosed with moderate/severe Autism and SPD. When I first heard it, I was partly in shock, but part of me had already known. I saw little signs in him before and had prepared myself the best I could for his diagnosis. What I didn’t prepare myself for was how much of a better person I would become, because of him.
1.) I became more patient. My son was non-verbal up until about 2 months ago. So, communicating with him when he needed anything felt impossible. He would go into full meltdown mode anytime he needed or wanted something. I had to teach myself to take a breath and step into his little shoes. That while the meltdowns may bother me, imagine how he felt at that moment. How he wanted so badly to let his mommy know that he needed a drink, a snack, a certain toy, but he didn’t have the words or means to tell me. I stepped back and imagined how it would feel if I couldn’t let others know what I needed. I realized that I had to be patient with him, much more patient than I had to be with others. That he needed mommy to be calm and take time to try to figure out what he needed. That although it may have upset me seeing him so upset at that very moment, it wouldn’t last forever. He taught me to have more patience than I have ever had in my life.
2.) I became more understanding. Now I don’t like admitting this, but when I looked back on how I was before my son, I realized I wasn’t very understanding. I was the person who, when someone’s child was laying on the floor of the food store screaming and kicking, I would look at them and think they had to be spoiled and always getting their way. Once I had my son and saw what he truly goes through, how a meltdown or sensory overload could happen any moment, any place, anytime, I realized that I wasn’t very understanding before. I never truly understood Autism until my son was diagnosed. I never truly understood that just because a child is screaming and yelling in a store, that it may not be because they didn’t get a toy or their way, it could be that the lights were too bright, people were too loud, crowds were too much and much more. I hate to think that I was that way in the past, but I am proud to say I am not anymore.
3.) I found my voice. I have always been a very outgoing person with my friends and family, but when around others I was very shy and never complained about things or voiced my opinion. Once my son was diagnosed though, that all changed. I realized that he couldn’t stand up for himself and needed me to be his voice.When it came to therapies and doctors, if I disagreed with something, noticed a certain therapy wasn’t working or knew we needed something to be done differently, I spoke up! I now and always will be my son’s voice, I will be his protector and the person who makes sure he gets the help that he needs.
4.) I found out how truly strong I am. When you first hear that diagnosis, your mind begins to run a million miles a minute. You start to wonder if you can truly handle this. Will I be able to function with little sleep the nights my son won’t sleep, will I be able to keep him safe at all times, will I be able to calm him down in a meltdown? These thoughts and so many more began to run through my head. And, you know what the answer to them all is, YES! Somehow, some way, you adjust. You learn to deal with little sleep, you handle meltdowns without crying during them and you just keep moving forward. You do that for your child. I never knew how truly strong I could be until my son.
5.) I learned to celebrate everything, even the small things. When we have kids we celebrate all their milestones. First smile, first tooth, first steps. All of those amazing firsts. When you have a child with Autism, you know that there is so much more than just those big milestones to celebrate. I now celebrate stuff like first bite of a new food, first trip somewhere without a meltdown, first touch of a new item. There are just so many things to celebrate. Things that I took for granted with my daughter. I find joy now in every little thing. Like the first time my son turned to look at me when I called his name, it was such an amazing moment, one that others may take for granted. Every little achievement now I celebrate, maybe not with a cake and party, but with tears, smiles and dancing!
I never could have known just how much my son would change me. He has made me such a better person, a better mom, better wife, better friend, just better all around. I don’t take anything for granted these days and I am so thankful for everything. One day I will tell my son how he helped Mommy to become a better person and I will thank him that day. But right now, I am just enjoying my kids. Enjoying the person I have become and looking forward to our future. Looking forward to the learning I still have to get from my son and knowing that he truly is my superhero!!