As I stated with my initial post, this blog is going to be about everything. However, for many years I have wanted to write a book about my experience as a mother of a child with Autism. Many over the years have encouraged me to do so. It always seemed so overwhelming to write a book but yet I do have experiences that I would like to share. A blog seems to be the perfect outlet--at least for now - for me. So I will give you my experiences as a mom with a child who has Autism. Also, I will only blog about Caleb once in awhile. There is so much more to my life. So much more.
As a disclaimer, I am just a mom. I am not a licensed anything--(except I do hold a license to teach elementary education but that's another story and I have not taught fulltime in many years). My experiences are mine alone and are not intended to diagnose or treat anyone anywhere. I am merely sharing. Take away what you will and share with others who may be in need of knowledge. Many years ago, when Caleb was first diagnosed the information age was not as available as it is now. I longed for information and to connect with someone who was going through what I was. I hope this helps someone out there who feels the same way. If you are that someone reading this or know someone who needs this, please have them comment here and we can connect through private messaging. No one should feel alone on this path of Autism. I am always more than happy to share what I can.
Caleb was born in 1989 a normal, although large, 10 lb baby boy. He was delivered by C section and was so big that the nurses had a betting pool as to how big he was going to be! He was the second child and boy I had. My first child, Zach, was normal size at birth, and so Caleb's size was totally unexpected.
As Caleb grew, he developed quite normally. He passed all the physical milestones. Later after his diagnosis, I would look back and see small subtle clues to his impending Autism. He cried when I left him from a very young age. He was only a few weeks old when I noticed this. My mother cared for him for a few hours while I shopped and he cried from the time I left until I returned. Once I was home, he stopped. He was not a fussy baby at all so this behavior was perplexing. He would do this with everyone-no matter who cared for him including his own father
Also, although Caleb walked early. climbed early, ran early; he did not point at objects like other 9 month old babies did. He never waved bye-bye no matter how hard we tried to teach him. None of this really bothered my husband and I. I was busy working and caring for 2 young children and motherhood didn't really allow me to think about small nuisances.
When Caleb was 2 yrs old, he contracted rotovirus- a nasty disease that landed him in the hospital for four days. It was during that time, I really began to wonder exactly what was wrong with him. He still did not talk or make any sounds that even sounded close to words. He did not look at you when you spoke to him. He never came when his name was called. As the nurses in the hospital attempted to engage him , and couldn't, I knew something was off. But what?
I should have taken him to a doctor at that point. But I didn't. I pondered his behavior. Every morning, I awoke and prayed to God that he would speak that day. I felt that if he just talked, all would be fine. He never uttered a word. My husband and I waited six more months to do anything.
An aunt of my husband's was visiting and noticed Caleb's odd behavior. She thought we should have his hearing checked. He must be hearing impaired. As odd as it sounds, I prayed he was just hearing impaired. I knew if it were something more, it must be bad.
So we took him to an audiologist who performed various tests on him. He was not hearing impaired. As a matter of fact, the audiologist said he had extraordinary hearing and could hear sounds others couldn't! So now what, we asked her? She referred us to a state program that served children under 3 years old. We contacted them and when the social worker came out, she assessed Caleb for several hours.
Very gently the worker suggested that Caleb could possibly have autism. She then referred us out to a pediatric neurologist. After his 5 hour assessment, he made the diagnosis. Caleb had autism. My life and my family's life changed that day. I thought it was over. I was devastated. Little did I know....
I'm going to end my story there for now. I will resume it in another blog. For those of you out there that have just had your child diagnosed with autism or within the last few years, I want you to know, your life is not over. It is not the end of anything. I know you are hurting now. I know your grief. I've been there. You are going to take another path now, but it is not a bad path, just a different path. There will be days when the path is rocky and you will want to give up. But there will be joy too. I promise you. There will be joy.
You won't understand this now but someday you will: If I could give a magic pill to Caleb that would instantly cure his Autism, I would not give it to him. It would change everything I have experienced and it would change who he is. A mother with an autistic adult son told me that once when Caleb was 3 and I did not understand. But now that Caleb is 23 , I totally understand. And I concur!!!