The Day My Son Was Different

I’ll never forget that day. The day that I realized, this wasn’t just a speech delay. That he wasn’t just a boy that was going to develop at his own rate. I’ll never forget the moment, that I actually had to admit to myself, that my son was more than likely, autistic.

I chose to be a stay at home mom. My husband and I made that decision, the very moment we found out about Carter. It was something that was important to both of us, so that’s what I did. I spent 3 1/2 blissful years, just being Carter’s Mom. There was no one to compare him to, and nobody around to point out all of the things that were different. No one, except me.

I saw things. Some things that didn’t click right away, because he was my first. But then there were the things that did click. The things that as soon as I noticed, I would turn around and push them away. To the back of my mind. Somewhere deep.

Somewhere where they could never resurface. “I didn’t just see that. He is fine.” 

I kept us hidden away. We didn’t do play groups, or play dates. We didn’t go to the library, or to crowded parks. We stayed in our bubble. I had two people during this time, mention some red flags. One even said that word. That horrid word, that in no way described MY son. I was angry, and shut them down and then like before, I pushed those thoughts away.

As much as I dreaded it, he eventually started preschool. I didn’t want him to go, for reasons that all moms have. My baby was growing up. I was going to miss him. And then there was the thought…what if they see something? Nope. Push it away. I could address the fact that he was 3 years old and non verbal. Despite whatever fairy tale I was living in, I still wanted the best for him. I still wanted him to get that help, that I knew he needed.

One day, not very long into the school year, I was able to walk back to Carter’s classroom to pick him up. I walked down the hall, excited. He was loving school. He jumped out of the car everyday, ready to go. I couldn’t wait to see him, in his new favorite place. I approached the room with several pictures of what I would see, in my head. Maybe he would be playing, with friends! Maybe he would be dancing, or listening to a story.

I walked in, and there in the front of the room, was the teacher sitting in a chair. All of the kids were sitting in front of her, with their legs crossed and hands in their laps. I couldn’t see their faces, just the backs of their heads. I looked and looked, but I didn’t see my little blonde headed boy, anywhere.

Eventually, I noticed two feet. Two feet, wearing my sons black adidas sambas, sticking out from underneath the table. There he was, alone, playing with his Captain Hook. He noticed me and climbed out. He began jumping, flapping his hands, and yelling. One of the kids said, “Carter always does that when he is happy.”

I didn’t see happiness that day. I saw different. I saw delays. I saw everything that he was behind in. And what hurt the most. I looked at those other children, and I saw everything he wasn’t. And in that moment, with a nauseous feeling, and tears filling my eyes, I knew. I knew that autism was a possibility.

I wish I could say things got better after that day, but they didn’t. All of those thoughts and memories, that I thought I had hidden so well, constantly played on repeat in my mind. On the day that Carter was diagnosed, one year later, I finally said that word out loud. But it still took another year, for me to feel happiness. And like Carter’s old classmate, I could finally see it in him. He was happy.

I still have bad days, but I’m not the same woman that walked into that classroom, over 2 years ago. I’m stronger, I’m determined, and I love my son with a fierceness, that will get us through anything. I know he is different and I know he has autism, but that word doesn’t change the fact that he is my son.

It doesn’t change the way I feel about him, and it never will.

Written by, Samantha Fawns

Her son Carter Rue, thinks he is a pirate. He also, happens to have autism. Everyday is an adventure, when you are a part of “Carter’s Crew.” Sam shares their journey at The Au-Some Pirate.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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When my son was first diagnosed with autism no one was talking about it. Autism was hidden. I vow to change that.
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