EDITOR'S NOTE: Adrian Wood wrote this piece after her 3-year-old son Amos was diagnosed with autism on March 27, 2017.
Adrian, meet autism. Autism, meet Adrian.
I've never really minded you, you know. I was writing a story about Julia, praising the new character with autism on Sesame Street, the very morning of the day that we were introduced. I knew you through friends and was all set to wear blue for World Autism Awareness Day. Everything was great about you until you jumped ship and got ahold of my family. We were doing just fine on our own, with therapy plans and a great classroom, and now your presence feels like a foreboding wrench.
Applied Behavioral Analysis, TEACCH, holistic diets, experts, advisors, summer programs, parent training sessions, dozens of blogs devoted to autism, family resources at the state and national level, more people, men and women, ones covered by insurance and ones that will break the bank. How do we choose? When will I find time to weed through all the carefully offered advice? I don't want to miss a chance for Amos and yet, I can't stop thinking you're at the wrong house.
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You see, I've got more than enough going on and plenty to keep me busy. We've been doing pretty good and we've gotten quite used to saying Amos has "extra special needs." Really, I can handle that — but now you? I'd like to lock the gate to my precious family and throw away the key, but somehow I don't think you're going away, so my heart is telling me to grin and bear it.
But — bear what? That's the thing, I don't even know. This autism thing seems like a complicated sea of prehistoric animals swimming along futuristic creatures. You never strike the same way, so I'm scared of what to expect. I'm scared you're going to ask too much.
Just give me a little time, OK? I'll get used to you. After all, Amos stole my heart long ago.