April is Autism Awareness Month, but Autism Awareness is every day for us. My son Aiden was diagnosed with Autism at two years old and for the most part, I feel like my whole world has changed–in a good way. I want to personally outline my journey and how Autism has changed me.
I was 30 years old at the time I gave birth to Aiden (Aiden is now four years old). I have always been someone who desires to have everything in my life in order. In addition, I suffer from General Anxiety Disorder, which comes with OCD.
Once Aiden came into our life, it was of course chaos. Oddly a quiet chaos that was more internal in me. I started to realize at early stages of Aiden’s infancy that he may be Autistic.
After almost a year of evaluations and advocacy (this is the short version), we finally received a diagnosis from Aiden’s Neurologist. I also passed on a rare genetic duplication, which aligns with an array of Autism symptoms.
As time went on, I looked back on what I thought Motherhood would be like. I had no patience even before Aiden was born. I thought everything would follow my plan. I was wrong. I found myself worrying all the time, crying a lot and just feeling lost and alone.
At the same time, I went through postpartum depression for a year, which was a very difficult struggle. My introduction into Motherhood was the total opposite of what I thought being a Mom would be like. I didn’t know if I was the right person for the job.
A wave of feeling lost and alone started to arise. My husband was in denial about Aiden’s diagnosis for almost a year and no one that I knew had a child with Autism. Yes, Autism changed me.
Then, it hit me like a bulldozer one day! I realized that I had the power to knock down barriers for my son. Why? Because I am a fighter! I have always challenged the status quo and I was really great at educating myself on things I didn’t know.
Research and education was key! I joined groups and met a wonderful group of women experiencing similar challenges (thank you Tasha and Heather). My best friend Mara was always there to remind me of what I was capable of.
I made sure to challenge, fight and advocate for the best therapists–to show up for Aiden every single day. There was no other way. I knew that in order for Aiden to be successful, I had to quit the negativity and get to work. Yes, Autism changed me.
Then & Now
I look back at the initial diagnosis and my frantic state of mind. It seems like a distant memory. In just a few months after Aiden’s diagnosis, I was able to make waves to get him what he needed for his future.
With his speech apraxia, sensory processing disorder and motor planning challenges, Aiden is making great progress at 4 years old.
Do I still worry? Sure! What Parent doesn’t? More than that, I need to also tell myself what an awesome son I have. Aiden works hard every day and has progressed with speech and his SPD. I am such a proud Mother. Yes, Autism changed me.
Autism changed me, as my son has taught me patience. Aiden has taught me deep emotional revelation of who I am and whom I was meant to be. Autism changed me, because I look at the world differently. I was meant to be his Mama and Autism will always be part of our lives.
In the past, I was scared of the future, because I doubted my ability and listened to people who told me Aiden may never talk. I now understand that no one holds a crystal ball and as long as he keeps working hard and I keep standing behind him, we can do anything together.
Yes, Autism changed me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To the parents of an Autistic child, young or older, I see you going through the daily grind, as it hits you like a tsunami in the face. I want you to take it day by day. You will have good days and bad days and that is okay. What is not okay is giving up or living in a state of negativity.
Remember our Autistic children will be Autistic adults and we need to be positive role models for them. We need to pave the way and teach them about life, reverence and ambition.
Remember, you got this! You will look back and say “Autism has changed me and in the most positive way”.
Parents of children that are not Neurodiverse, please help teach your children about inclusion and diversity, as well as those with disabilities. Differences are a part of each and every one of us. Let’s show our children how important it is to be kind.