This is our autism story.
I truly believe my boy is my soulmate.
My boy came to my life after a complicated pregnancy. I was in bed rest for most part of my pregnancy. Every single time I went to the doctor for a checkup something new would come up, and I would leave the the room in tears, desperate and scared. I wanted this boy so much, I couldn’t imagine my life without him, so I fought as hard as I could to keep him alive.
When my little Prince Charming finally was born, he was perfect. A beautiful healthy little baby. He hit all of his milestones perfectly, he was always happy, smiling, he was super sweet and active. He was the fastest boy around his friends. I used to call him the crawling flash!
At the time he was a little over a year old, he started to show no interest on playing with me.He would enjoy to play by himself for long periods of time, like if he was in his own little world, and as a newbie I thought that was perfectly fine.
There were a few things here and there that seemed a little odd about my boy, but I guess I was so scared to accept them that I decided to ignore them or make excuses for them. Like on his speech delay. I convinced myself it was because he was growing up in a bilingual environment, and he was just a little confused.
It was then, after he turned two, that I realized that something was really going on. I would call his name many times and he wouldn’t respond to me. He started developing really bad tantrums and he would run from a corner of a room and bang his head against the wall, it was terrifying. He would scream nonstop whenever we would stop in the car on a red light. If we didn’t park in the same spot we parked the last time in any of the places we frequently visited, (like grocery store, downtown disney, target, the mall, etc) it was a sure ticket for some screaming, kicking on the floor and lots of crying. I cannot tell you how many times I left my cart half full in the grocery store because my little boy started crying and threw himself on the floor on a really bad tantrum. At that time, it was like if the earth stopped spinning and all the lights dimmed and there was a big bright spot light on top of us. People would make comments about my boy or the way I was raising him and/or how bad I was doing it. My boy was just reacting to something. He was overwhelmed by the environment.
By the time Enzo started kindergarden he already had been dismissed from 2 private prestigious schools. I cannot explain how horrible, heartbreaking and sad this is. “we can’t have him anymore, he’s taking way too much attention and time from the teacher”. I was so depressed and desperate (yes, I wrote desperate again) I took him to play therapy, sand therapy, read articles, books about the autism spectrum but he didn’t seem to fit in all of the descriptions, there were similarities but just that.
He had tantrums, he was banging his head on the wall (when I didn’t get there on time to prevent him from doing it) but, he would have eye contact with me when I talked to him, he wasn’t aggressive towards me, or anybody else, on the contrary, he has always been sweet, cuddly and loving, and if he ever seen me crying he would hug me and try to comfort me. And guess what? He has a fantastic sense of humor and he does understand sarcasm (take that autism!)
So I kept finding myself back on square one, trying to convince myself it was just a phase he was going through, and he was going to be fine. But deep inside, I was terrified.
So I molded my life around his personality, but I would try , from time to time, to break his mold a little bit. I would try to convince him that, maybe, we needed park on the row next to the one he wanted me to. Or getting inside of the store from a different door. I would try to make little deals here and there . I failed most of the times, but the times he gave in, it would make my day!
At the end of 2012 I got separated from my ex husband. I knew my boy and I needed to change our lives around, I knew we needed a change of environment and dynamics for us to grow. I was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but we needed a structured functional environment, a break from the bad habits.
After several meetings at his school, we decided that the best for him was to transfer him to another school, that could provide my boy with all the resources he needed. At that other school, he was gonna be in a special education classroom. I didn’t know how to feel about it, because I knew, his case of autism was very mild and I was terrified he was gonna regress instead of showing improvement.
After just 3 months, in that special education classroom, I received yet another call from school. We set another IEP meeting. I panicked every time I received a call from school. But this time, it was great news. They were advising me to transfer my boy to a general education classroom. (take that autism!)
I saw his improvement at home, but I’m his mom, and I always see his improvements, as little as they can be to others, I always see them as a huge win.
One of my biggest dream was to ever be able to have a conversation with my son. To any of you it may be something normal, something you do everyday with your kids. For me, it felt just like a dream. I dreamed about the day he would get in the car after school, and tell me how his day went. Yes, something as simple as that.
Today, he has overcome so many obstacles. He does now tell me about his day (take that too autism). Sometimes, he just can’t stop talking! and I just look at him thankful for all of we have grown and learned so far.
We still have a long way to go, but when I look back, I’m so amazed of all the things we have accomplished.
There are hard days. He came home a few weeks back and he was so sad. He grabbed my hand and put it on his chest and told me “my feelings hurt right here” and started crying. He told me kids at school didn’t want him to play with them at recess. I wanted to cry as bad as him, but I just held him in my arms, and comforted him. These things break my heart. It hurts so bad.
I try to take one day at the time, and not to worry much about the future, because sometimes, it terrifies me. But then, I see all the improvement he has made in the last two years and I feel thankful and hopeful.
I have my combat boots on and I will never give up the fight.
Today is Autism Awareness Day. 1 in every 68 kids has autism. Today, all I ask, is for awareness and acceptance. Today, if you’re a parent I dare you to sit with your little person and talk to them about Autism. If you don’t have kids I’m sure you know somebody who has been touched by autism. Ask them about it, I’m pretty sure they would be glad you asked. Take 5 minutes and do, today, a little research.
Lately I’ve been able to do a few photography projects with my boy. He seems to be as much into it as I am. Here’s what we’ve done so far and he has a long list of things he wants to do. It makes me so happy and proud.