#1: The Hurricane
Updated: Jan 16, 2018
“Your son is on the autism spectrum. Our comprehensive assessment revealed a number of behaviors consistent with this diagnosis, such as …” Dr. K, the child psychologist, was still talking, but I couldn’t hear over the roar. Did she just say “autism”? ROAR. The winds are getting so loud. I feel like the building is moving. The pressure in the air has changed. I can’t breathe. ROAR.
A quick glance toward the window reveals sunny, calm skies. What is happening? WHY is the doctor still talking like everything is normal?! I can’t hear a word she is saying. My husband is staring at her intently but blankly as well. Does he feel these hurricane-force winds? ROAR.
It is October 24th. Until today, October 24th was a day I always associated with my parents. If my Dad were still with us, today would have been their 42nd wedding anniversary.
From now on, it will mark the day my son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
I am reeling. Torn between emotions of shock and despair, and those of anger and resolve. How did this happen? How COULD this happen? Did we do something wrong?
Our life has just been overtaken by a hurricane, and I don’t know which way is up. I can’t find the ground under my feet. I’m being blown through the air by forces beyond my control. CONTROL. It’s gone. Oh God, help me. I need to find the ground!
“ … so you’ll find my full, written assessment in this folder.” Suddenly I can hear the doctor’s voice again. “I would recommend that you share this with E’s pediatrician to determine the best next steps. Do you have any questions?” I stare at her blankly. “YES”, I want to scream to her, “how did this happen? What do we do? How do we get our son back?!” But I can't voice the words. I just stare at her.
As if reading my mind Dr. K looks me in the eyes and says, “Remember, E is the same little boy today that he was yesterday, before this diagnosis. HE has not changed. YOUR understanding of his needs is now changing, but HE has not changed. He is still the same sweet, loving and smart little boy.” There it is … I’m starting to feel the ground again.
As we walk to the car a highlight reel of E’s first four years flashes through my mind. Pure ecstasy when I found out I was going to be a Mommy. The tough pregnancy. The emergency c-section. How TINY his little 5-lb body was. A week in the hospital before we could take him home.
Not sleeping. His sweet demeanor and probing eyes. Singing lullabies; that’s all that calms him. Finally sitting up on his own. Crawling. Walking – late, but walking nonetheless. His smile. Oh, that smile!
I’m crying now. I can’t stop. The reel continues.
Soft blankets. Toy cars, turned upside down so he could spin the wheels endlessly. Still not sleeping. So tired. God, I’m SO TIRED! Legos. Countless Legos. Toy cars and Legos. All lined up just so. Crying if I touch or move his cars or Legos.
HOW did I miss the signs??? But he had some words! He said “mama” and “dada”!
The reel won’t stop.
Separation anxiety. He needs me all the time. Why won’t he answer now when I call him? Why won’t he look at me? No eggs? You LOVE eggs! Why is he so picky now?
I will the reel to stop. I can’t do this now. Please stop. I’ll come back to you later. I’ll grieve later.
Rise up, Mama. Right now you need to FIGHT. You need to fight for your son. Fight for what he needs. Fight for help. He needs you more than ever now.
Time to be a warrior.