He Was Always Him

stalen 2

January 16, 2017

It’s been 4 years since my son Stalen was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. He was 21 months old.

I remember he was wild in the room as we waited for the doctor to come in and speak with us. He was throwing toys and picking crumbs from the carpet. He was pulling single plastic gloves from a box hanging on the wall. I was trying to hold myself together with strict composure but could feel the lump in my throat and the anxiety deep in the pit of my stomach.

This was it…

The doctor calmly told me that Stalen was being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. I didn’t hear anything else even though I kept looking at the doctor and nodding and he kept talking. After a minute or two, he asked me if I had any questions. I smiled weakly and said no.

I had to sign a confirmation of diagnosis form which is forwarded on for services. My hand trembled as I wrote my name. I was so shook I didn’t even date the form like your supposed to. I took Stalen and high tailed it out of there.

I couldn’t wait for the solace of my vehicle. I remember the strong smell of the mans cologne in the elevator. I was close to breaking. I remember fumbling through my purse for change for the parking pay center.

Ugh! Why do I always carry so much unnecessary crap in my purse?!?!

Finally, in the car, I grabbed my sunglasses even though it was a chilly day in January. I wanted to conceal the tears slowly rolling down my cheeks. I looked in my rear-view mirror and there he was…my sweet baby. My whole world, in his own world. He was smiling, and staring off out the window. Oblivious to it all.

I took 3 exhilarating deep breaths. I felt them in my toes. Those minutes in that doctor’s office had completely drained me to my core, I was attempting to refill my tank.

I had known for a couple of months without a doubt that he was autistic.

But I had known forever that he was amazing.

In that moment, things were different but really the same.

I was still me and he was always him.

There was no more wondering, it was confirmed.

We were going to get the supports and services we so desperately needed. He was my little boy to love and nurture and teach things to. I knew he would do it all, but he would just do it in a different way-his way, in a different time and space.

I didn’t know much about autism.

I didn’t know what the future would look like.

I didn’t have all the answers but hoped for clarity over time.

I was completely certain of only one thing…on that day, January 16, 2017, I knew him just like I had from the very moment he took his first breath into the world at 12:11pm on April 12, 2015.

I knew he needed me and I knew I needed him and that was enough for me to start the car and take us home.

We have both come so far together in these 4 years.

Written by, Chrystal Venator

My name is Chrystal Venator. I am a proud wife, ASD Mom, Step-Mom and Pug Mom. In January 2017, at 21 months my son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. He is 5 years old and non-verbal. Since his diagnosis, I have become a full time stay at home Mom. I am 1000% focused on raising autism awareness and helping my son live a full and fun life. You can follow our story on Facebook at Stalen’s Way.

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Kate Swenson

Kate Swenson lives in Minnesota with her husband Jamie, and four children, Cooper, Sawyer, Harbor and Wynnie. Kate launched Finding Cooper's Voice from her couch while her now 11-year-old son Cooper was being diagnosed with autism. Back then it was a place to write. Today it is a living, thriving community of people who want to not only advocate for autism, but also make the world a better place for individuals with disabilities and their families. Her first book, Forever Boy, will be released, April 5, 2022.

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