The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible - Vladimir Nabokov

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you - Zora Neale Hurston

01 December 2014

What I'm Thankful for...

This has been a tough year. I hope that explains why this post is several days late, and why there have been few posts in months, but I'm a writer so I should be a bit more specific. It was just over a year ago my son was diagnosed with autism. ASD to be specific: He's "on the spectrum" as they say.

He is gorgeous and looks at you with the most beautiful big hazel eyes, but he's 3 1/2 and and tends to temper tantrum rather than talk. He's brilliantly able to do his alphabet, shapes, numbers and colors, but he does them over and over again in obsessed loops of activity that are hard to break. It started with wheels. Watching them spin round and round and never noticing the people or children around him.

I had my suspicions from when he was 18 months old. He wasn't like the other kids. I blamed it on him being a boy and slow to catch on, but when another boy in mother's group started telling me all the different parts of the car he was playing with and what his favorite cars were when my son could barely say "mama" I knew something was wrong. I had this sinking feeling.

I expected the pediatrician's diagnosis to be a relief, but it was a shock. You never know how you'll deal with these things until they hit you. My way of dealing was to learn everything I could and do everything I could.

A year later, and hundreds of hours of ABA (applied behavioral therapy) later, my son has gone from 30 words to over 350. He's doing amazing...but there's such a long way to go when I see the other 3-year-olds. I basically stopped writing this past year. I'd just completed a fantastic amount of work on my epic fantasy with a professional editor, but I just couldn't write after the diagnosis. I had to put all my effort, all my thoughts and dreams into my son. I couldn't care about anything else.

Now  he's doing better, and we've just enrolled him into preschool for next year (a fantastic school with plenty of normal kids but with skilled teachers experienced with autistic and other special needs children). His pediatrician confirmed the early diagnosis and we know we're into this for the long haul. It wasn't simple developmental delay. This is who he is...but I'm okay with that.

All the hours spent working with my son with first shape sorters and then puzzles and later category cards has helped me learn what a tough-willed little guy he is. He has his personality and it's a powerful one. He's incredibly stubborn, yet bright, despite his inability to communicate, and he's so much fun. His laugh warms my soul. I love chasing birds with him in the park and cringing as he climbs too high on the jungle gym. I love him so much I've forgotten about the ASD. It's just become a part of him, and that's the best place for it. Not his 'disease' but just a part of is unique personality.

I've stopped trying to save him and have started just trying to help him learn what he needs in life.

And I've started thinking about me again. Even my amazing husband, who dropped everything to become my son's all day long carer and teacher, has begun to paint again. And I've begun to write again. I can't approach that dark epic fantasy right now, but I rediscovered a fun little gem of a fantasy mystery in my files. I'm finishing it off and self-publishing soon. So watch out! I'm back.