The Silver Linings in Living Autism
My son Cody was diagnosed with severe autism at 17 months. As a parent I had no idea what that even meant. I knew no one on the spectrum.
I remember sitting in a sterile office while getting our diagnosis watching my little boy wander around the room opening and closing drawers, trying to leave the room while the doctor sat calmly stating what my son’s future would be.
Bleak at best. Place him, he said. You’re both young.
Place him? We want him with us. We planned for him. He’s our son.
If this story resonates with yours. Listen carefully… No one, not even a doctor, knows one’s future or can predict what one can and will not do in life. Please remember that.
Cody is a product of his environment. An environment of love and patience.
Today Cody is 22. It’s been a lifetime since receiving that diagnosis.
It’s been a journey filled with so many emotions.
I sat watching home movies of our family today and what I noticed most was a family who has so much love and devotion. Two little boys happily dancing to Barney and Thomas the train.
The same two little boys playing side by side in a sandbox. One flying a shovel the other scooping sand. Truly beautiful. Each doing their thing their way.
I saw nothing more.
I saw no labels.
In looking back I wish I had seen this view then. What I saw was what we are told to see. The typical things. The milestones.
There are so many beautiful things missed when waiting.
Cody watches home movies almost daily. I find myself sitting with him almost like an outsider looking in on a family unknown to me. I see all the moments of wonderful that were once lost all those years ago. The touching moments of just simply being who one is without expectations.
Cody has been at home full time with me for three years.
I want to talk about the gifts you can find in the really hard times.
Cody was diagnosed with severe nonverbal autism at a young age then later I.D.
Cody was very much a typical little boy filled with endless energy but being nonverbal caused so many outbursts.
Today Cody is grown and verbal. I’m not sure his diagnosis fits who he is today.
Cody has grown leaps and bounds in the last three years than all the years he ever attended school. He’s happier and much calmer.
When I was thrust into being his teacher, caregiver and adult guide I can tell you I was shocked to learn what he wasn’t learning in school.
I entrusted that my son was getting an education. Now I knew it would look different but nevertheless, an education.
I then realized instead of working with Cody he was just given what made him happy so the peers that were higher functioning could be worked with. He had a one-to-one aide so that made no sense to me.
I would pop in from time to time and it didn’t matter what day or the time of day Cody was always on a break watching his favorite video.
It wasn’t long after I started working with him as his “teacher” I realized how much he enjoyed learning. Now don’t get me wrong he loves his iPad but he enjoys learning almost as much.
Cody excels learning at home one on one. Something amazing came out of a truly devastatingly long period of chaos and hardship.
As they say when one door closes another opens. There are so many other opportunities that have evolved one couldn’t have foreseen.
Our kids can learn via zoom if being in a classroom is too triggering thus impeding their education.
If doctor appointments are hard we now have Telehealth.
Families are spending more time together because many have opted out of commuting and now work from home.
My mom now lives near us after over two decades of living over 300 miles away. She now works from home. That would have never happened.
There are many silver linings to hard moments in life.
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