“Oh my gosh! Look at how LITTLE they all are!”
“What?” I asked my husband and leaned in to look at his phone.
On the screen was a photo that another parent had posted to Facebook. “Wait – when was this?” I asked and took the phone from his hands to get a closer look.
“It was Bobby’s first soccer team with the club. I guess that was 3 or 4 years ago.”
I looked at my husband with squinty eyes and then looked back to the picture.
I saw the faces on the team and recognized some of them. Not from that team, but from different teams through the years of playing with the same club. They did look so much younger.
“That’s neat, “ I said and handed back the phone.
But I thought to myself – why did that team look so foreign to me? Why did I not have any memory of it?
“Oh,” I thought, “That’s right. I never made it to any of those games. It was THAT year.”
That year was the hardest year. It was the year I resented……everything.
When I counted back, that picture was taken the year that Declan was 2 going on 3 years old. The year that I took Declan out of the house only when completely necessary.
Why? What was Declan like? Well, the best way I can explain it – he was like a bouncing ball, out of control.
If I were to stand in one corner of a room and throw a little tiny bouncing ball at the other corner – it would bounce all over the place in an unpredictable manner. I could not tell the ball where to go – it would not understand me. It could not tell me why it was going to hit the walls or objects it would hit.
Declan was the bouncing ball. He didn’t see objects in his way. He didn’t see people. He just needed to move. He needed to bounce off things – his body was seeking sensory input. Affected by everything bright and loud around him. And most days he was starting his day in the wee hours of the morning.
We were so isolated everywhere we went IF we even went anywhere. There was a finite amount of places we could go. I would only go to empty playgrounds to keep other kid’s safe from Declan. I would wait in the sick area of a Dr.’s office if it was the empty area. And when Declan was diagnosed with autism, by depression deepened. Why? I felt that all the stress, the isolation, the lack of sleep – it was never going to change.
But things did change. Some things did get better.
I can look back now and see the change. The terrible 2’s turned into the very hard 3’s into the hard 4’s. Keep going – were things getting better? Yes. Over time, things got better. And here we are. 6. The best part of this year so far? Declan is finally potty trained.
Are all days perfect now? Heck no – if you read my blog you’ll read the ups and the downs. But I would say there are as many ups as there are downs now, if not more. Maybe it’s my own perspective. Maybe I learned a few tricks along the way. I don’t know – maybe. On top of that, I have made friends. We have some support.
Things are better.
Would I believe this message of hope if I had read this post 4 years ago? Probably not. I was only able to focus on getting through each day. Pushing myself each morning to get out of bed, put my feet on the ground and resume my role as autism safety watch dog. I had no ability to think about the next day.
But my message is of hope – some things with autism do get better.