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Anything is Possible if you Dare to Dream

March 31, 2010

Introspection on the path of autism. . .

This time every year, around the end of March and Easter time, I find myself getting very introspective.

I look back on the last eight years or so, think how far I have come in so many ways and wonder how I ever made it to where I am now.

Eight years ago today, on Easter Sunday, I went into labor, not for the first time, with my second child. I joking thought he might be born on April fools. He wasn't thank goodness, since he was still 6 weeks early and had been trying to make his appearance into the world for several weeks at that point.

In fact, Taz, was born just 8 days later at 35 weeks with multiple health problems, which I could never have predicted when I tried so hard for so many years to have a second child.

We were determined to give our 6-year-old, Jessie, a sibling without any idea how much our lives would change over the next few years.

When Taz was born, we barely knew what autism was.

Two years later we learned more than we ever wanted to know about autism, when Jessie's therapist went out on a limb and suggested the diagnosis to us.

We were totally floored when the therapist showed us a list of characteristics of autistic children and, once we absorbed the possibility, so many aspects of Jessie's life, which we never understood, but simply accepted, started to fit together into a puzzle whose shape, while different from the "norm" is all the more beautiful, because it is unique.

Thus, began our lives on the path of autism.

The path is winding, often dark and frightening and seemingly never-ending.

Even worse, when our second child, Taz, started exhibiting signs of autism not long after Jessie's diagnosis, we were suddenly faced with the added stress of following two very different paths at the same time.

Every autistic child is unique in his or her own way and when you parent more than one child on the spectrum, you will find that each child's path diverges at points from those of his/her siblings and peers.

I have noticed frequently over the past 5 years or so, that our children's paths cross at points, run parallel at others and often shoot off in completely different directions, usually at the worst possible time.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. . .It takes more than a village to raise an autistic child.

It takes very supportive parents, along with a whole network of doctors, therapists, teachers and understanding friends to guide each child along his/her own unique path.

Today, eight years later, I look back along the winding/divergent paths of my two children and I am utterly in awe of how far we have all come.

Last night at the soccer field, Jessie, my formerly non-verbal child, was standing three feet away from her team while they huddled. Two years ago she would have been pacing from across the field.

And, Taz, my wild child, spent a good 30 minutes engrossed in yet another 4-leaf clover search. He always finds one, no matter how long it takes, because he's not just lucky, he's autistic. He may hyper-stim at the drop of a hat, but when he focuses on a project he's unstoppable.

In eight more years, I predict that Jessie will be in college on a soccer scholarship and Taz will have a winning entry in the National Science Fair.

The path of autism may be winding and never-ending, but the possibilities along the way are infinite.


P.S. The attached picture is a t-shirt design which is available for purchase through Cafe Press with a portion of the proceeds going to Autism Speaks. Autism Awareness T-Shirts