“Oh my gosh!” I gasped
I was flipping through pictures and stopped at this one. The one that took my breath away.
The last one when everything was still, “all right.”
We were still a typical family then. Things were tough, but heck, we had three small kids. Things were SUPPOSED to be tough.
I did the math. Declan was 15 months in this picture. He was a walker, but in this picture, he could sit. He could smile when the photographer said, “Smile!!” He could talk. He was hitting all his milestones.
WE. HAD. NO. CONCERNS.
Things started to get hard. Parenting was really hard. I had to do things for Declan that I did not have to do for the other kids. Were there autism signs? Maybe, but at the time, we didn’t know about the autism spectrum. Autism was a complete oversight.
The following year, Declan wouldn’t sit. He was unable to follow any directions. The pose was created by working around Declan. He laid down, the kids quickly sat and smiled while I held his legs in the back, trying to stop him from rolling away.
At home, things got harder. Unbelievably harder. We lived in a world where everything was a struggle. A battle.
Then an autism diagnosis came.
And we lived in the world of “can’t.”
There was no studio picture the following year. When the reminder came for the kids yearly picture, there was only one response:
We stuck with services. We enlisted new therapies. We learned more about autism and each other.
We grew stronger as a family unit.
And we never went back to the studio for a picture.
There are too many transitions to get into the studio itself. Too many directions that need to be followed. Once we get in, there is a stranger who is flashing lights.
Those are things that overshadow smiles in this house.
We look now for things we CAN do.
Our good pictures come now when we are happy, not when someone tells us to smile. And I am always ready with a camera.
I take a step back now and realize, these are before and after pictures. Before an autism diagnosis and after an autism diagnosis.
Do you know what differences I see?
I see happy children in both photos.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I know this family has had some rough days. And I know whatever life gives us next, we will work through together and find our smiles again.
I am so thankful, we are strong that way.