Let me take you to a moment I had with Carter that truly touched my heart and made me think about how lucky we truly are – and how his and our Determination, Faith, Hope and all the encouragement given by others has really paid off with our autism journey.
On a cold day in Feb this year, I picked Carter up from school. When he got in the car I could see that he had a look of worry on his face. I asked him what was wrong because I could tell something was bothering him due to the look on his face. His reply to me was – “I always have this look if I am not happy or not sad.” A few minutes later I could tell that his facial expression did not change and that it was a look of worry. I convinced him to talk to me… he told me that he had a substitute teacher that day and the last class of the day he didn’t finish his work. He said that his substitute tried to get him to finish and he told her he didn’t want to and he made a “mmm” sound at her. I asked him if he finished the work and he said he didn’t. I asked him if he was upset because he didn’t finish and he replied with “a little upset”… he went on to tell me that he was more upset at the fact that he told the substitute he wasn’t going to finish it and that he made “mmm” sound at her. So, I went on to talk to him about what he should have done instead and if he saw the substitute again what he was going to say to her. He responded with – “I will tell her I felt really bad about not finishing my work and being ugly to her.”
You are probably thinking that conversations like this are common with typical children. But – you see my Carter is not your typical child.
2 years ago –he wouldn’t have felt bad because he wouldn’t have realized he might have hurt someones feelings.
When we arrived home, the look of worry was off his face and as soon as he walked in he asked to put on his pj’s. He would live in his pajama’s if I let him. I told him he could but first I wanted to talk to him a little more. As I sat him in my lap….this was our conversation…
Carter, I know sometimes it is hard for you to express your feelings but I want you to know how proud I am of you today. You talked through your problem with me. Did you know that going on 5 years ago that you could barely talk and that you would get so frustrated because you couldn’t tell us your wants and needs. So – you, me and daddy had to learn sign language to help us communicate. Once you were able to speak we got you working with a speech therapist… and as of last week you have graduated out of speech therapy because you are speaking so well. We were told you may not ever be able to do so… and you tried so hard that you are now talking better than a lot of kids your age. You proved the doctors wrong. I am so proud of you.
He laid his head on my shoulder.
Carter, did you know that we were told that you may never be able to write, color, draw and cut with scissors. So, mommy and daddy gave you pencils, paper, colors and scissors and let you do what you could with them. We also got you into Occupational Therapy to help you with this. And NOW – as of last week you have graduated out of Occupational Therapy because your fine motor skills are better than most kids your age. AND you are an amazing drawer, colorer and scissor cutter – your art skills blow everyone away. You again proved the doctors wrong. I am so proud of you.
He hugged me tight.
Carter, just 2 years ago you didn’t understand what feelings are. You didn’t know the difference between happy and sad… hurt and joyful… so we sent you to a behavioral specialist and she helped you recognize what feelings are. Now you laugh, you smile, you cry, you hurt and you know the difference between these feelings. I am so proud of you.
For years all I wanted you to do was to have one friend. You didn’t understand how to play with others. So we put you in Leg-Up, got you involved in children’s activities in church… and now you have so many friends that love you. I am so proud of you.
You had issues walking and staying on balance. You would fall for no reason when walking… just very clumsy. So, we put you in gymnastics and it has helped you so much. You are able to run and play with out falling down. You do not turn your feet in when you walk as much anymore. You worked so hard. I am so proud of you.
He hugged me tighter.
Carter, there are children with autism that are your age or older that can’t tell their mommy and daddy “I love you”. They can’t talk. There are some that still have to wear a diaper because their little minds don’t understand when to go to the bathroom. There are those children that have issues with noises and smells. They cry out for what seems to be no reason – but it is a reason for them. They want to communicate but they can not. YOU have come so far. Everyday you make me proud because you never give up.
About that time I felt something wet on my shirt. I raised him up from my shoulder and he was crying. I got a pit in my stomach because I thought I had told him toooooo much. I asked him what was wrong and his words rushed through me like no other…
He replied… “These are not sad tears. These are happy tears. I am proud of me.”
He then leaned in and hugged me and said “I love you.”
Those 3 little words so many autism parents want to hear but have never and may never will. We are fortunate that our son can say those 3 little meaningful words and that he means them when he says them because he wants to say them and he understands their meaning.
We are fortunate that our son is breaking down the autism doors… I am not saying that his journey doesn’t have bumps because it does… and probably will for the rest of his life. He will always have autism but autism will not always have him. He is beating down the doors of doubt and is bringing so much HOPE to others. In my eyes – he is a ROCK STAR!
Please keep in mind that this is our journey. Every single autism story is different.
Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. – Elizabeth Stone