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April is Autism Awareness Month but six years ago, I didn’t know what autism or that it had a month dedicated to it. I didn’t know a single person raising a child with autism and I certainly didn’t know what any of the signs were. When my son, Norrin, was two years old he diagnosed with autism; I was devastated. I had no idea what the diagnosed would mean for us or for him. Over the last six years, Norrin has taught me many things. And I’ve also learned a few things about myself.
After My Son Was Diagnosed With Autism I Learned That I Am:
Resilient. As I told people about Norrin’s diagnosis, their words of solace seemed to be “whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” As cliche as that phrase seems, they have been true. I was heartbroken. I cried myself to sleep every night for months. And every morning, I woke up. Eventually the tears stopped. Autism wasn’t the end of our lives, it was the beginning of a new one.
Determined. Having a child with special needs requires parents to become advocates for their children. The special education system is complicated, a tangle of red tape that can easily deter parents. In other aspects of my life, I am not a fighter. But when it comes to the services Norrin needs, I am determined in making sure he gets them.
Hopeful. I have always been a “glass half empty” kind of person. When Norrin was born, I wanted to give him every opportunity I never had. I had so many dreams and expectations for him. After an autism diagnosis, I lost a little of that hope. At the time he was diagnosed, I couldn’t see beyond where he was. Norrin had no speech, he couldn’t point his finger, he couldn’t jump and had no pretend play skills. As Norrin progressed, and met those milestones I began to hope again. In the beginning, I was consumed with all the things Norrin couldn’t do. Now I look at all the things that he can do. And I know the older Norrin gets, the more things he will do.
Raising a child with autism isn’t easy but it isn’t the worst thing that has happened to our family. We have gone on, and I continue to hope for Norrin. I am determined to make all of his dreams come true. We are as typical as any other family. I want for Norrin what every parent wants for their child. My current goals for Norrin revolve around happiness, compassion, independence and creativity.
Autism Awareness Month is for people who don’t know about autism to learn more. For me, it makes me aware of how much I’ve already learned about my son and myself.