I was blessed, yes I say blessed to have a son who was diagnosed with Autism. He was growing normally, whatever normal is, I gave up on that word a long time ago, until around the age of 18 months. He then started missing milestones that typical peers were achieving. His babbling ceased, and he became mute. He seemed to be at a standstill developmentally. He exhibited odd behaviours socially, such as a vacant stare, thrashing himself about, acts of perseveration. ( repetitive rocking, and banging of his head) to the point where I put a helmet on him. He was seeing an old country doctor who told me there was nothing to worry about, boys are slower than girls. I knew it was much more than that, but was in denial.
His doctor having passed away, I took him to the general health district for vaccinations and they observed his behaviour, and reported his Autism to The Board Of MR/DD . I received a letter in the male stating that my son was diagnosed with AUTISM and would be receiving Government assistance, such as Medical and Money to purchase special equipment for his needs. I was livid. How dare they say that about my son, as if Autism were a bad word. I just refused to see the evidence in front of me, and wanted my son to be a Normal Child. I phoned the nurse and asked her what I needed to do to help my son become Normal. She explained to me that there was no becoming Normal, I was heartbroken. She did put me in touch with very helpful Early Intervention Specialists who not only provided therapies for my son , but helped to educate me as well. I was going by stereotype information that I had heard from the fifties and sixties that Autism was caused from Refrigerator Mothers who did not care for their children. This is not what Autism is at all. Autism is a Developmental Disability. My Matt’s Autism was not caused by Me or Him. The important thing to remember in all of this is that I get him the VITAL THERAPIES he needed to help lead a productive life.
Once I got over my denial and self pity, yes I actually felt sorry for myself, and would drink myself to sleep every night after I put Matt to bed, I found ways I could aid in Matt”s therapies. I made Facilitation Boards ( Pictures on Boards He Could Point To), and forced him to use them for things he wanted until he became verbal. Matt had Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapy. I also provided Music and Water Therapy. Today Music and Water Therapies are a Huge part of his life.
I learned that I had to be Matt’s Advocate and Speak for him when he could Speak for Himself. To Make Sure He received the Education he deserved, to make sure he was safe, and to always let him know he was loved.
Matt was 11 the first time he said “I love you ” to me. He is 22 now, and says it everyday. I am blessed. He has taught me so much about love, patience, understanding, endurance, and determination.