. With Love, From The Mother 'Hood: Thankful

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Photo by Becky Coyle, www.rebeccacoyle.com

"Wait , Daddy!" You would think my 2 year-old son recited an epic poem or some other remarkable, historic piece if you saw my response to his two word command. Simple phrases like this, or "Hi, Mom!", elicit extremely happy responses from me: "Nice talking!", or "Good using your words!", and often to the Hubs, "Did you hear him?!". I am ecstatic to hear utterances that most parents of two year-olds take for granted. At this age developmentally, strangers should be able to understand him 50% of the time, and we just aren't there, yet.

The above picture was taken before I knew 100% that we were dealing with autism for the second time, but looking at it now, I know I was right to be concerned about the episodes of "zoning out" I witnessed, among other things. It is a beautiful photo (thank you, Becky!), but as his mom I see the "stare" and the open mouth that I now know is due to low tone (and maybe I am crazy, but I have noticed kiddos on the spectrum tend to have a certain "look" about their hands). I am fully aware that we are extremely fortunate, once again, to receive a diagnosis on the "high functioning" end of the spectrum. I also know if you talk to any parent dealing with autism spectrum disorder, regardless of severity, they will (if they are being honest) tell you that it sucks, BIG TIME. Multiply "BIG TIME" times number of kiddos diagnosed.... It doesn't do anything for me to pretend that everything is "fine" when it isn't - better to let the tears fall when and where they may (and hopefully allow them to wash away some of the stuff that mucks up my life, although I hate crying in front of others).

Since hearing the second "A" word diagnosis, I have seen expectant moms everywhere, their bodies and minds full of the future, and I long to turn back time. It isn't that I want more kids, but rather to return to an innocence that is long gone; to feel for just one more moment the weight of life safe within myself before it is altered by terms like autism and AD/HD. I ache for those first moments, holding my newborn child and falling in love as if we are the only two beings in the world. Don't get me wrong, I love my children (their shtuff and all) more than anything in this world, and honestly can say I would die for them (ask anyone who really knows me - "Mama Bear" is what comes to their mind), but there are times that being their mom is so very hard. My heart breaks for them (and honestly, for myself), about how things were "supposed" to be, and it still catches me off-guard at times. The worst is when out in public, people (usually other moms with their perfectly behaved children) stare at me while I am trying to control a full-blown meltdown, and all I sense is "What-a-crappy-mom" vibe from them. The most recent episode occurred while my own mom was with me, and she knew exactly what to say: "Every mom [of typical kids] should walk in your shoes for a day."

Beyond my family, autism has brought some amazing, beautiful people to my life, and I am truly thankful for these individuals - they "get it". It has taken quite some time (good wine, and a LOT of soul searching, too), but I am realizing that my life path is leading me towards helping others dealing with the same, and I am finally returning to school in hopes of pursuing a career focused on therapeutic support for individuals and families managing autism and developmental/sensory processing differences. I know from firsthand experience that early intervention is truly a key to opening the door toward functioning in a "typical" world. I received two phone calls this week about my older son on the spectrum, (my now sweet boy, who at age two had so many sensory challenges I wondered if he would ever attend a traditional/public school - and daily, if I would survive being his mom) and because of all our hard work together, he no longer needs speech therapy or special education for reading (HAPPY DANCE!!!!). He is attending public school with minimal assistance, and we were able to drop his TSS (Therapy Support Staff) almost a year ago. Now most people are not immediately aware of his challenges. When sharing with his speech therapist how hard it was to even leave the house with him six years ago, she had a hard time believing we were speaking of the same boy. I still worry about him, and about his future, but I am grateful for the knowledge he has given me. My other sweet boy is ahead of the game because his mama has already walked this path with his older brother. These are the moments that it all makes sense - these are the moments I am thankful.


  1. Beautiful Missy. I'm inspired by your strength and I'm so happy for the strides your sons are making!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story so candidly. It's hard to be a good parent period, let alone to face the challenges you have had to face. I would imagine you have had to draw upon tremendous resources of creativity to accomplish what you have had to accomplish in life. I am a musician who blogs about creativity. Please visit me at freetospeakblog.blogspot.com or betsy-grant.blogspot.com would love for you to share your thoughts,


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