There are two dates that really changed my life - autism diagnosis days. It wasn't that I didn't already know, but those dates made it official and started my journey to a new life.
You’d think it would be birthdays or anniversaries, but no. These dates upended my life as I knew it.
There is no guide to autism. When I left the neurologist's office the first time, they handed me a packet with numbers to call for waitlists and schools, and another packet with the comorbidities of autism with an ending that cheerfully read, “one day, your child can live in a group home!”
So, you either get determined and research, or you pretend it’s not happening. It's easy to pretend it's not happening in the beginning: How far behind can a 2-year-old really be? Unless you have have filled out the intensive speech, language, sensory, medical, fine motor, gross motor, and psychological evaluations, you have no clue how wrong pretending it's not happening can be. That gap gets noticeably wider as they age until there is no denying it anymore.
So, you learn all of the acronyms and laws protecting your children - medically and educationally. You research and find the craziest “cures” until you realize that this is who they are and there’s no “cure” for being them. The saddest part is that the very first things you see when you start researching are crazy diets, dangerous supplements, bleach "cures," chelation therapy - because surely, your child wasn't just born the way they are.
Until you keep looking and find a community of moms like you, therapists and educators who actually care, and autistic adults willing to educate you. You learn a sensory diet has nothing to do with what they eat. That language is more than just spoken words. New terms like neurotribes, neurotypical, and neurodiverse. You study everything your child does and wonder why it’s happening. You read it all and ask your support community questions to try and figure it all out. When your child cannot express what they think and feel, you search for any way to understand - sometimes you figure it out, other times you may never know, and that is so difficult to accept as a mom. How can you possibly make things better for them when you don't know what exactly is wrong?
There are choices to be made when God throws a curveball. You can choose to pretend it's not happening, or you can find the courage to do what your child needs you to do. Build a community around them and yourself of people who understand and don't judge, people who love unconditionally and not for what they think your kids will end up like in the future, people who truly want to understand, help, and learn.
They want acceptance, and that's what they deserve.