I Vowed I Would Do Everything I Could

My son Mason will be 8 years old in March.

I found out he was autistic on December 21, 2012 when I took him to his scheduled autism evaluation at a Neurological Center.

He was 21 months old.

I remember the worst parts of the day.

Mason is on the Autism Spectrum.

I listened to the Neuropsychologist babble about 40 hours of therapy a week… this particular conversation just sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher talking to me.

40 hours what? Applied Behav-WHAT???

WHAT ARE YOU SAYING??

I work 40 hours a week! My kid needs 40 hours of therapy?

He is one?? WHAAAT? Who can actually do this?

I walked out of the facility, my head spinning.

I looked at trees and clouds for help, because they were the only things around.

What am I supposed to do?

Obviously, trees and clouds didn’t answer or help me.

Nothing could answer.

I sat in the car, gripping a little packet that contained information about Autism Spectrum Disorders with all of my might, holding the papers in a fist as if my life would be over if it left my hands for even a moment.

I went home and joined support groups.

I started a blog that night.

I googled and cried.

I was not ready for this challenge.

I began to obsessively seek out experiences of parents with older autistic children because I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.

They sounded so sure of themselves.

They talked about treatment, ideas, experiences.

THEY  SOUNDED SO KNOWLEDGEABLE.

I became extremely overwhelmed and scared.

I felt like these parents were part of some group I didn’t belong in, and were speaking a different language.

I remember crying.

Is this going to be me?? I don’t want this to be me!

I just want to just take Mason to soccer practice when he is 5 and maybe give him a vitamin in the morning.

I wanted my mom to save me, and then became overwhelmed that I was actually the mother, and my mother couldn’t help in the way I wanted, even if she wanted to.

I wanted this responsibility to be taken away from me, however my continuous inner monologue quickly brought it all home, as usual…

You. Are. It, sweetheart.

Oh…Great.

I vowed I would do everything in my power to help Mason.

I wanted no regrets.

I sat through ABA and Early Intervention Sessions, learning and watching how Mason’s therapists were helping him.

I remember the first ABA session, I was so confused and had no understanding why the therapist was doing what she was doing.

I felt like some dope just standing there.

I tried my best to pay attention and learn, and apply to every day life.

Months went by, years went by.

I read blogs written by autistic adults to gain their perspective, to make sure Mason’s therapy made sense, and to make sure I was helping him as opposed to trying to convert him into a Neurotypical person.

I remember Mason’s father being kind of impressed with me at Mason’s 3 year school district evaluation because I kind of sounded like I knew what I was talking about.

I have countless…ENDLESS moments with Mason where my heart just swells with pride so much and  I feel like it is going to burst out of my chest.

I cannot pick just one Mason Moment to write about because there are too many.

I would like to share my first proud moment as a mother of an autistic child…

I was not comfortable the way a new therapist was applying ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy), and after a few sessions…I spoke up…right to her face.

She assured me that what she was doing was OK and that I only “felt the way I did because I was a parent”.

I told her we should end the session.

Now…ANYONE who knows me knows I prefer to avoid confrontations.

I do not like them. I do not “have” to be right.

This moment, however, I knew I was right.

I knew what she was doing was wrong.

I wrote a very diplomatic email to her superiors, and they responded swiftly.

There were 3 monitoring sessions scheduled as a result of my email.

I explained my perspective.

They agreed, and explained to her why her process was incorrect, and helped her.

She was more than willing to listen and learn.

After the 3 monitoring sessions, we were back to just the therapist coming by herself.

She applied all of the techniques discussed in the monitoring sessions to his therapy sessions

She was not offended at all, and she developed a good relationship with Mason moving forward.

Also…I no longer wanted to punch her in the face.

So…it was great for all involved!

This was first proud, confident moment as a Mom.

This was the moment I knew I could continue to trust my instincts.

This was the moment I felt confident in myself as a parent to an autistic child.

It is now 6 years since a doctor confirmed Mason was autistic.

I remember the support groups, reading articles and thinking to myself I could never be those parents.

I could never know what they know. I didn’t have it in me. It just seemed too hard.

It was too overwhelming to even think about and I wanted to give up before I began.

I can’t do this. I don’t want this

But I did. And I am doing the best that I can. And I am really proud of myself.

I think I can hang with the best of them!

We will all eventually gain confidence as  parents, no matter how far away it seems.

And we should always continue to stick together.

Shout out to all my autism mom friends! I love you all!

You all have taught me something valuable and helped me in moments of need.

I WOULD NOT BE WHERE I AM TODAY WITHOUT ANY OF YOU!!!

WE GOT THIS!!

Written by, Jill Potter

Jill’s son Mason was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at 21 months. Jill is a working mommy who actively advocates for her son and actively supports new parents beginning their autism journey.

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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 our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.

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  • Colleen

    December 10, 2018 at 9:34 am
    Reply

    Wow, its so great to see Mason, he's getting so big! He was in the same school as my son a couple years ago and […] Read MoreWow, its so great to see Mason, he's getting so big! He was in the same school as my son a couple years ago and was just such a sweet kid. Hope you are all well! Read Less

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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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