September’s share your story guest is the wonderful Lisa M. She writes all about her 2 sons, both on the Autism spectrum. Also, her son has published a book about his Autism titled, “Aspergers and Other SuperPowers“, found on Amazon. Thank you Lisa for sharing with us!
My name is Lisa Marciel. I am a mother of two boys on the Autism Spectrum. Max (18) has Asperger’s Syndrome and Reece (15) has PDDNOS/Multi-Sensory Disorder. I continue learning about Autism every day and hope that I can be a support to someone out there who needs encouragement. I want others to know that the struggle is real and it’s ok to seek help, therapy and medication if necessary. I encourage you all to look into and read my son’s book Asperger’s and Other Super Powers found on Amazon.com. It is a great learning tool to find out how the mind of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome thinks. A great gift for teachers, family members or friends that may not understand the spectrum. I also want to thank Melissa for giving me this opportunity to share a little bit of my story with you all. I have never blogged before, so bear with me! If you ever need a friend, a hug or just a vent session, feel free to find me on Facebook as Lisa Marciel. Please enjoy my story!
2001: Autism. A word I never gave a second thought about. Dan Marino’s son had “Autism”, but of course he was so remotely far away and no one else around us had Autism. All I knew about Autism or what I thought I knew about Autism was that it caused a child not to speak. That’s how ignorant I was. I was completely unaware of what the diagnosis was until that day-the day they diagnosed my 3-year-old son, Max, with “Autism”.
It started out with Max throwing tantrums when things didn’t go his way. In my mind at the time I truly thought he was just spoiled and needed another sibling. I got pregnant with son #2 and that’s when my life completely changed. At the age of 3, we enrolled Max into preschool. He seemed like a normal child to us, only a perfectionist. He knew all types of facts, loved to watch all the typical kid shows, enjoyed books, and spoke normally.
As I went to pick up Max from preschool one day, his teacher approached me to let me know that she felt “something wasn’t right with Max”. She wanted Max to be tested for Autism. Autism? What? He speaks just fine! He’s verbal! Autism couldn’t be an issue for MY son! After much discussion, we decided to go through with the testing. Max did awesome on the cognitive tests and we remained positive that “all was going to be fine” … until…. the clinical test results came back. Dumbfounded, we got a second opinion from another doctor. Same result. High Functioning Autism- a word that would become a regular in our household.
My husband and I were both petrified. What will happen to our son? What will happen to his future? A million questions ran through our boggled minds. Of course we scanned books, the internet and spoke to every person we could about his diagnosis. Max immediately started behavioral therapy and was put into a specialized preschool program through the state. We worked diligently with Max at home, however it was quite difficult because his father was still in denial of the diagnosis. I continued to persist with Max, take him on constant outings (even though he would fight me to go) and I was completely focused on “fixing” my son. It took a toll on me. I thought I was a “bad” mother. I thought I did something wrong. I cried myself to sleep at nights wondering “Why me God? Why did you do this to my son?”
After many tears and a suggestion from a friend, I sought out counseling for myself. My husband was still in denial and didn’t believe in therapy or medication, so I received no support. Life for me was looking quite bleak. I continued my therapy and much to my surprise, I wasn’t a bad mother. I wasn’t a bad wife. I was doing all that I could to help my son and our situation. Eventually, Max’s father and I divorced. He wasn’t a bad guy either, he was just at a loss at how to help our son(s). I say “sons” now because my youngest son Reece was now also diagnosed on the spectrum. Reece’s diagnosis was PDDNOS as well as Multi-Sensory Disorder. Having 2 young children on the spectrum was overwhelming and I wanted to just run away from it all, but I knew I couldn’t do that to my children. This is when I started to embrace the disability and truly start advocating for my boys. I was going to attack this “Autism” thing!
I learned how to laugh at my boys and the quirky things they do. They are genius and smarter than I am and have taught me patience and how to take baby steps! I started seeing the world through their eyes and not my own. I’ve accepted the fact that they take longer to do things than peers their age and that they won’t be the basketball team stars that I envisioned them to be when they were born. They are who they want to be and I’m fine with that. I also know that the journey is not over. They will have Autism for the rest of their lives, but how they learn and grow is ever-changing.
My oldest son Max, who once hid under his preschool desk and wouldn’t come out, has now graduated high school and written an autobiography on his perspective of growing up on the spectrum. He will be attending Gonzaga University in the fall and is intending on studying Computer Engineering. Of course we are scared to death once again about him heading away to college, living in the dorm with a stranger and being able to cope with the necessary social skills. He was blessed to apply and attend a program here in Washington State that is for college bound high schoolers that have disabilities. At this program (Do-It Scholars) they teach the students how to transition from high school to college and how to advocate for themselves. I believe that this program has helped him overcome some of the fears of attending college and I trust that he will do wonderfully. I also know that if he decides that college isn’t working out for him, I need to continue to encourage him on the process of being a functioning adult in society.
Reece will be a sophomore in high school this coming fall. He is doing great academically and is one of the most loving, sweet children I know. He actively participates in worship at church and has a great sense of humor. Reece didn’t speak or point as a toddler and had many hours of speech and behavior therapy. Today he is in regular education classes at school with assistance in English and Math. His sensory issues have decreased somewhat, but he is still a picky eater. I am confident that as we continue to try different foods and expose Reece to those foods, he may one day enjoy something different. He still hasn’t voiced any plans post high school, but whatever it is he may want to pursue, I am completely on board with it. He will also be starting driving lessons in the fall, and now that I am still alive through Max’s training, I am confident Reece will be successful as well.
Having children with Autism is challenging and difficult, yet humbling. I used to care about what other’s thought of my young children throwing themselves down on the soccer field. I used to feel the pain in my very core when they would cry and tantrum after their cupcake fell on the ground. Every step out of the house takes planning and thought. Because children on the spectrum obviously “look” normal, it was hard to explain their disability. All parents with kids on the spectrum go through this. Not just me. I am not special, I am just a mother that loves her boys and always wants the best for them. I will admit, having children with Autism is tiring beyond belief, but seeing their accomplishments (and mine) over the years had made it all worth the fight. Never give up on your child. No matter how small the accomplishment, it’s just that….an accomplishment. I call it the never-ending roller coaster ride, complete with the ups and downs, the twists and the turns, the unknown fear and the screaming, and most of all, the happiness and laughter.