Four Years and Counting: Embracing the Adventures of Our Autism Journey

Our autism journey officially began four years ago as of today. Adventure is another word that comes to mind.

The evaluation will forever be burned in my memory. I don’t think a parent could ever forget it despite knowing the diagnosis going into the evaluation.

Still, we choose to focus on my son Gage’s progress, accomplishments, and his ability to tackle the world despite his “limitations”.

I also want to acknowledge the trials the rest of my family faces because their feelings are valid. Immediate family, extended family, chosen family, and friends. The focus is so often on the child with the diagnosis we forget to process the emotions of everyone else.

I want to specifically mention the grace and maturity that Conor, his brother who is now 14, shows despite the challenges we face. In many ways he was forced to grow up sooner than most children at the age of 10. He also knows empathy, love, and resilience unlike anyone I’ve ever known.

I will also acknowledge the not so pretty emotions. Grief, guilt, frustration, hopelessness, desperation, being misunderstood, and loneliness are a few. So often wanting to yell “Will somebody just help us?! Just tell us what to do!”

A child with autism does change you, for better or worse, as a parent. You are forced to examine the parts of you that aren’t desirable and you find the parts of you that have the strength you didn’t know you had.

It gets better. Your heart swells while it breaks. Thank you to everyone that has walked alongside us and propped us up when needed.

Gage certainly is one of the most multidimensional, joyful, eccentric, and determined six year old I know and so are his people.

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Lisa Polinske

Lisa Polinske lives in a suburb of Milwaukee, WI with her two sons. Her youngest was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder three years ago. She wears her mom title and armor with much pride.

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