“He has autism,” the words just rang over and over in my head as the Neuropsychologist went over the autism diagnosis and test results.
No, not autism. Surely it can’t be an autism diagnosis. Excuse me, Doctor didn’t you just see him complete that pattern so easily. I mean really, it took me a little bit to figure out what comes next. He did it so fast and quickly. Don’t you see he is gifted? He is so smart.
Really, is that a big deal that you had to bribe him with YouTube clips to cooperate? No one likes to be tested and really he is 3 years old. What 3-year-old wants to sit down to a series of testing. He loves Transformers, of course, he prefers them to puzzles.
Oh, his tantrums. He just wants to run and do his own thing. He is so strong-willed, independent, and in his own little world.
Frustration tolerance? Okay, maybe I see that, isn’t that something we can work on? I mean he is still a baby, not all kids follow every direction given.
“Ma’am the big thing here is that he is globally rigid. He doesn’t make eye contact, he doesn’t respond to his name, he doesn’t use gestures, lacks emotions, and doesn’t cooperate unless he prefers to or without a motivator. This is autism. You were right.”
My heart sank, I didn’t want to be right.
But I knew. My mom instincts told me at 18 months something just wasn’t adding up. Despite the doctor visits and the wellness checks, I knew. After all, I made this appointment.
So why was it so hard to actually hear the words?
These words, as they so easily slipped off the doctor’s lips, went straight to my lungs pulling every ounce of air from them. As I struggled to breathe the words then moved over to my heart.
Like a knife, they cut deep and pierced the bubble of joy, hopes, dreams, and goals that I had there for my child.
I felt my heart deflate into ultimate sorrow. Quickly trying to make sense of these new feelings and emotions, I picked my son up and brushed back his messy brown hair, looked into his beautiful blue eyes, and simply kissed his face. He was still so perfect to me.
I could feel his body full of pure exhaustion from the days of testing and I held him tighter than ever before. As I stumbled out of the office numb, I knew things were different this time. He has a diagnosis, he has a label.
It took time for me to come to terms with the diagnosis. I googled trying to prove the doctors wrong. I tried the CFGF diet with little gains. I negotiated with God. I withdrew from friends and kept “the big A,” as my husband refers to it, to myself because I feared the response of others.
I feared I had failed my child.
It is amazing what one word can do to a family. Logan’s autism diagnosis quickly changed us. This label said so much about my child without me having to say anything. But, while this label identified my child as having an autism diagnosis, it said nothing about who my child really is.I feared how telling others of my son's autism diagnosis would change the way they see my child. Click To Tweet
Would they still look at him the same? Would they still love him the same? I didn’t want him to be treated differently. I didn’t want him to be viewed in a negative light.
He is an amazing child, full of love, humor, and creativity. A child who is observant, silly, and loved by his parents and sister unimaginably. I wanted everyone to see that. Not this big a-word that throws up so many negative connotations.
I wanted everyone to see him as he was. So we kept it to ourselves for over a year, while still continuing quietly with our early interventions.
Then one day it clicked. I watched my son jump up and reenacted a complete dance routine from Trolls, a movie he had only see once. He had it mastered from the booty shaking, to the twirls, and foot tapping.
- Was “the big A” something that was so terrible?
- Had I been looking it in the wrong way?
- Was I the one holding him back by this new found autism diagnosis?
- Was I labeling him disabled without acknowledging that he is able?
He may need a extra assistance and a little push here and there. He has these super amazing gifts and abilities that get masked by the negativity of the term autism.
I stopped looking at the things that were so difficult for my him. I took joy in the perseveration he showed in completing a task.
I started appreciating the things that came so easily. I watched in amazement as he was able to recite back a book being read to him word by word. I listened as he sang every word to the new songs he learned.
He may not carry on the best conversation but he can sing a song back, hitting the pitch and tone perfectly.
I stopped looking at him as being broken and needing to be fixed. I had to put away my own negative assumptions regarding autism. I had put away my dreams, hopes, and plans for his future and embrace the present.
While the present is messy, chaotic, and stressful, its full of joy and determination that I have never seen before. I realized that he was Logan when he walked into the doctor’s office and he was still Logan when he walked out with a diagnosis.
While yes my son has an autism diagnosis, he is not autism, he is much more.
Want to learn more about autism? Check out my other posts on what I learned:
Thanks for reading! I hope this post helped you in finding your own acceptance. Leave a comment below with your experiences with an autism diagnosis or autism acceptance.