Last year on this same day, I sat on this same couch with Daddy and the same psychologist who said “autism” like she was ordering her favorite sandwich at the deli down the street. No emotion. No big deal. No mustard. Significant cognitive and language delay. Extra tomatoes. Moderate to severe autism. My baby.
What? How did this happen? How did we get here? That was a hard day, Baby. I felt like I was in a big fog. The days and weeks following were hard too, just in a different way. I slowly realized that our family wouldn’t be what I had expected. My mommy experience wouldn’t be what I expected. You aren’t what I expected. But Baby, hear Mommy when she says this: You are so much more. You are more than your autism. You are more than I dreamed of. You are more than I hoped for. You are more.
To be honest, your diagnosis was a relief, as strange as that might sound. A golden ticket of sorts. Your diagnosis opened the door for amazing therapies that have helped you so much. Your therapists love you, and it makes me so happy to see you run into their offices every week ready to play and learn. Your eye contact has improved so much, and now you even respond to your name most of the time. You are learning sign language and even say five words—mom, dada, done, go and tickle. You’re even learning to use the potty and ride a scooter! You still love bath time, playing outside, going to school and wrestling with Daddy. You tolerate your little brother pretty well, too. Baby, little brother loves you so much. Sometimes he just looks at you and smiles when we are driving in the car or at the park swinging together. Do you notice that? He looks up to you and loves you so much. You’re his hero.
In a lot of ways, you’re my hero too, Baby. You are teaching Mommy to be the person she wants to be. You’re teaching me about perseverance, faith and determination. You’re teaching me to not be timid but to instead stand up for what you need and what is right. You’re giving me opportunities to trust God more than I ever have before, knowing that He has an amazing plan for your future.
So, here we are again one year later on the same couch with the same psychologist talking about your autism and your yearly test results. But, you know what? So much has changed since last year. You’ve come a long way, Baby. We’ve come a long way as a family too. Mommy and Daddy are proud of you and all your hard work. Of course, these tests show how far behind your peers you are and highlight the differences between you and them. We can deal with that tomorrow. Tonight we are going to celebrate how far you’ve come and all the ways you are improving. We are going to watch your favorite movie (Despicable Me), eat your favorite foods (waffles, apples, bacon and tortilla chips), play outside, snuggle, laugh and stay up past bedtime. Tonight we celebrate amazing, wonderful, fantastic you.
You are my best adventure, Baby. I love you as big as the world.