My boy is 13 now and, you are right…those early years of diagnosis and first realizations of autism are tremendously tumultuous and hurtful. Hurtful because so much is unknown and there is nothing more fearful for a parent than the unknown.
I remember that well.
I remember those early years in our spectrum journey as almost a tornado. YES…seriously…a TORNADO.
It’s like a tornado you are swirling in the middle of and it’s hard and it hurts and there are no super easy answers. NONE. Sometimes it’s hard to simply know which way is up. Sometimes it’s hard to get your bearings and any answers you think you’ve found in one moment seem elusive in the next. It’s just hard and sometimes it’s hard for a long time, for years. Moments filled with struggle, with confusion and with feelings of failure because the fear always forces you to face the fact that you never really know if you’re doing it right.
But then one day, when your kiddo is maturing and progressing and growing, this crazy moment happens. One day you look back and you realize the tornado is actually subsiding. Yes, subsiding. The winds are no longer blowing you about and the air is finally more still than it has been in a long time and that stillness settles around you too.
Suddenly, you look back across your journey and you see how far you have come and that your kiddo, somewhere in that chaos that filled your life and made it hard for you to even breathe, has become more than you ever imagined. All the fears you had of him never making it are suddenly gone. No, he may not be perfect and his struggles are not over but, truly, he IS a miracle and he’s absolutely brilliant in your eyes.
You finally realize in a profound moment, as you enter that second decade of your autism journey, that autism may never have been an easy path or even a desired path in the beginning but it’s actually been a huge learning process for you AND you ARE a better and changed person because of it.
It is truly an astonishing moment, I assure you, and a moment we come to in our own time. It took nine years for me to have that gobsmacking moment. Some come to it sooner than I did while some find it later but finding it is what matters…no matter the time table.
I am admittedly hard headed and slow.
I have two typical kiddos in addition to my spectrum kiddo and, I can tell you with complete honesty, I would not change a thing. Despite the tears, heartache and hurt we have been through, I would walk the same journey again. The early years on the spectrum journey are HARD and sometimes they hurt like nothing else in this world but autism changes over time and the tornado subsides and the sun shines and the smiles, in time, do overcome the sadness. I urge you parents in the eye of the storm of those early years…don’t be too hard on yourself. Autism is an evolving process and it takes time. Give yourself that time as you learn to Sparkle On in the face of the storm, my friends. Because what you don’t realize right now is that you are indeed just as brilliant as the spectrum kiddos you are raising! Hugs and love to you all!