On that November day last year when my family’s lives changed is one that I’ll never forget. Sitting in the psychologist’s office waiting for the verdict. “In my medical opinion and from my observations, I believe your child does sit on the autism spectrum”.
As parents, we develop hopes and dreams about who our baby will be in the world and how we will be as parents. This process of creating an internal life for our baby and ourselves is a natural part of what all parents go through. We do not expect that our baby will be born with, or develop, a disability or special need; when that happens, much of what we imagined and planned is forever changed. This grief does not stem from the child’s autism in itself. It is grief over the loss of the normal child the parents had hoped and expected to have. Parents’ attitudes and expectations, and the discrepancies between what parents expect of children at a particular age and their own child’s actual development, cause more stress and anguish than the practical complexities of life with an autistic person. I didn’t lose a child to autism. I lost a child because the child I waited for never came into existence. This feeling is every day and one that I’m slowly learning to deal with.
Almost 8 months on and the reality of it all is still sinking in. The worries, concerns and what ifs I have every day will never leave me. He will start preschool next year and the transition and change for him will be overwhelming. A new environment, new friends, new educators and a new routine, all of which don’t sit well with a child that’s on the spectrum, especially mine. But I’m hopeful that he will settle in well with an extra teacher by his side and excel like all of his peers. I hold onto these positive thoughts for the strength to get through to the next.
Each day is different but the same. Nonetheless, we get through it alive and happy at the end of it (sometimes with a glass of wine or two in hand). The days will get easier as he gets older. I have learned to be a strong fighter for my child and be his advocate. My love for him, his funny quirks and beautiful smile will forever live with me.
My name is Sarah, my son Is Aiden and he has Autism Spectrum Disorder. I didn’t choose Autism for him, Autism chose us. And we will embrace it. We aren’t alone.