In the fall of 1995 – I had a short stint in college. The first day of college I met several great girls. One in-particular – I meshed with so well. We had so much in-common and we just clicked. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that almost 20 years later I would continue to have so much in common with this same person. Her name is Pamela Jo – P.J. for short. She and I have talked over the years via phone, email and facebook… but we have not seen each other since 2000. Well – that changed this weekend. My friend came to visit me and it truly was like old times. We laughed, we laughed some more and some more. It was cool to pick up where we left off almost 13 years ago.
P.J. and I have gone through a lot together. One of our most difficult and empowering journey’s is autism. When Carter was 1st diagnosed – PJ was the first friend I called because I knew she would understand the numb feeling. She has been there. Her youngest child was diagnosed in 2009 – severe on the spectrum.
As I have mentioned in a previous post –
Even though we have different journeys with autism… as loving parents our hearts are the same. Our hearts break, they rejoice, they do back flips and cartwheels… whether it be our child saying “Mama” or “I Love You” for the first time at the age of 6, our child being potty trained at the age of 7, our child smiling and laughing because they understand they are happy, our child knowing who Mozart is by the age of 5 and loving music, our child being made fun of, struggles of getting our child therapies that are needed, our child not being able to tell their wants and needs… we rejoice and we cry…. because we all want what is best for our child and we want everything to JUST BE OKAY. We all wish there was such a thing as a “FIX IT” button… but the reality sinks in that there is no such device that can answer our heartache. We never wanted our children to have autism… however; this is the path that was chosen for us – so, we must travel this uphill/downhill path with our child who we love more than life itself. We have to tread on and do what is best for them. This is all we want – what is best for them. It doesn’t mean our hearts do not break, our hearts do not cry, our hearts do not skip a beat – while on this journey of autism. We embrace our child and who they are – autism does not define them nor their parents. As I continue to say, autism is what my child has – it is NOT who he is. We cherish every “impossible” that becomes “possible”.
It is wonderful to have a network of parents who will do anything and everything for their child… and it is GREAT that we all have each other to cry, laugh and learn with – and to know that we are not alone. (If you haven’t read the post and want to read the rest – click here)
So – my post today is in honor of my friend PJ and her son, Charlie – who is amazing in his own right. Honestly – PJ doesn’t give herself enough credit… if she hadn’t gotten her son the therapy he needed/needs… he wouldn’t have come as far as he has… that is true perseverance.
Exerts from PJ’s blog…
When Charlie was about 9 months old I had my suspicions that something wasn’t quite right. For starters, he was far too laid back and content to be my child! He was happy for hours in a swing or car seat. Rarely raising up his head to look around & always smiling! So unlike his sister, the whistler, who was a ball of fire and energy and into everything! He wasn’t trying to talk yet and he had strange motor skills developing with his right arm. He would pinch his middle finger and thumb together and wave his arm in and out in an awkward fashion. I seemed to be the only one who noticed this. Everyone kept saying “he’ll talk when he’s ready” & “his dad didn’t talk till he was five”, but I just felt something was…off. Time just kept passing, and CBear never talked, but gosh was he sweet! Still, he missed milestone after milestone on the baby charts and I grew ever more concerned. Finally, by age 2 the doctor heard my plea and started the evaluations. Why is everything SO SLOW?! A waiting list, then a hearing test. Yes, he can hear. Another waiting list and a long evaluation for autism began. By this point the marriage had all but gone down in flames. I’d been sleeping on the couch with the kids for years or in another room all together and we were virtually strangers. I lost my job in January 2009 and our house would soon follow thanks to that. Sitting in a cold white room, in a month I don’t even recall, I remember the doctor coming in. I don’t remember her name.”He has autism. It’s severe.” I was already so numb…I couldn’t feel a thing. It’s not like I didn’t already know. I knew long ago. I didn’t know what autism was really, and I still wouldn’t! Not until Charlie was five! It’s not as if I wanted to be right. Hell! I’d have given my LIFE to be wrong right then! But I’d spent so much time with EVERYONE dismissing me that I had no fight left for a while. Which was unfortunate, because my son needed me. Now, more than ever, and I wouldn’t be “in it to win it!” For two more years…
The Wake Up Call:
Once the dust finally settled from the divorce I got a job and a place to live. Still I was in a daze and Charlie wasn’t progressing. Seemed we were all just going thru the motions. Then the most miraculous thing happened. I started dating again and my boyfriend had the guts to ask about my children. He made one tiny statement that changed the course of everything for my son, and I will forever be grateful. What was this profound statement you ask? “Looks like if I had a kid with autism I’d wanna know something about it!” Now, I’m sure he’s not the first person who tried to reach me, but he was there at the right time when I was ready to hear it. …and that’s all that matters. I’ve been a woman with a mission ever since. And Charlie? He’s reaped the benefits BIG TIME! 🙂 He’s in treatment and is now considered an “emerging communicator” from being nonverbal just 2 short yrs. ago! He’s blazing up a path!
Follow our journey with us and be a part of Team Charlie Bear!
PJ posted several videos last week on her blog of Charlie doing so well in his therapies – to think he was pretty much non-verbal until last year… he has come so far… You can watch all of the videos she posted here… I’m inserting the video I love the most – this one literally made me tear up.
PJ – your struggles – your determination – gives so many going through very similar scenarios so much hope! GO TEAM CHARLIE BEAR!
I’ve always found that anything worth achieving will always have obstacles in the way and you’ve got to have that drive and determination to overcome those obstacles on route to whatever it is that you want to accomplish. ~ Chuck Norris