“Oh no, I’m sorry. I can’t take this. My son does not have autism.”
The director looked at me and said, “Okay.” She took back the paper offering children with autism, different summer programs and activities.
I fought the autism diagnosis for a long time.
When Declan was 2 he went to a pre preschool called the ABBEL’s program, offered through the ARC of Chester County. The program was designed for children with autism to provide structure, for early socialization and to help the kids learn about classroom dynamics before their first year in preschool . Although Declan was not diagnosed with autism at this time, he was accepted into the program based on many of his developmental delays.
There were many times that professionals tried to talk to me about autism in relation to Declan. And so many times, I shot the conversation down.
“Declan does not have autism.”
That was it. End of story.
I saw the raised eyebrows. I saw the eyes go down. Some professionals gave me a look of confusion. But autism was something I wasn’t ready to accept.
I spoke about my own misinformation about autism here. I was unaware of autism, and had an autism perception in my mind of a person that could not speak, care for themselves or make eye contact with me – not because it was hard, but because the person just did not see me. Also, I thought the person with autism could not change or learn. I was unaware.
Declan was having a hard time. He had speech and he lost it. He was becoming unsafe. Declan was developmentally regressing. I felt an autism diagnosis would jeopardize his future. I felt the diagnosis was accepting he would never learn speech again or learn to control his erratic behavior.
Yes, I was wrong.
When I was finally super sure that there was no way anyone could diagnose him with autism, I allowed Declan to be evaluated. By a room full of complete strangers, led by a Developmental Pediatrician who would be meeting Declan for the first time. Their assessment?
Autism Spectrum Disorder.
I felt that an autism diagnosis was going to jeopardize his future. That I was accepting new growth or learning was going to be impossible for him. But I was wrong.
By the time Catelyn was diagnosed, I had learned about the autism spectrum. I had learned that positive change was possible after watching the right therapies and supports help Declan in so many ways. I learned about the obstacles Catelyn was facing, and we are learning ways to help her too. She is finding the possible in impossible, too.
Autism did not steal from my children’s future. It did not jeopardize their happiness. At all! My kids just have different hurdles to get across. By learning what some of those hurdles are, and helpful ways to get over them, they will achieve whatever they set their minds too.
I’m sure of it.