Years after my sons autism diagnosis I would find myself saying “oh, he will never be able to do that. ” ” He won’t be able to ride a 2 wheel bike or go to his neighborhood school. He won’t ever be potty trained or learn beyond a preschool level.” Naively, I thought that his autism diagnosis also meant ” incapable of learning new skills and being independent .” Maybe it was my deep dark hole of depression that was talking. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that having a “life sentence” diagnosis like this sends some people (me) into various emotional phases the include denial, grief, anger and depression.
After years of spending your entire life savings on every kind of therapy imaginable, you get a little jaded about “miracle recoveries” or “cures”. My son had 8 years of speech therapy – at least once a week , sometimes twice at, $100 a pop. You can do the math. It was big $$ and, today, he is still completely non verbal. We spent thousands of dollars trying to “cure” him of his autism and all the deficits associated with it. However, the year 2012 was a game changer for him and our entire family. He learned to type and finally communicate his thoughts. We started to realize that he is a very intelligent kid, locked in a very uncooperative body. One that prevents him from “fitting in” and learning skills at the rate of his peers.
But, after that November day in 2012 when he typed “I am trying” and “I am really smart”, I started to view him as a very capable boy that could learn anything…with time and patience…. Anything.
He learned to ride that two wheel bike ( still doesn’t love it), he runs a 13 minute mile, he is mainstreamed in general education among his neighborhood peers and after years of pull ups at night, he is rocking being commando! We decided to try braces because he typed “I want awesome looking teeth ” and, ” girls like straight teeth.” But, again I thought he would have NEVER tolerated such sensory overload. For YEARS dentist appointments and hair cuts were my worst nightmare…but, here we are… Making the impossible, possible.
I have finally learned to stop underestimating my sons capabilities. He is as capable as my other children and any typical peers his age. The struggle may be longer but the effort is worth it. Every “obstacle” he overcomes , I have renewed faith that his life is turning out just the way it was intended