Believe it or not I still remember the day someone told me my daughter Jordynn was autistic. The person was not nice; he was not compassionate. He did not accompany his news with any support material, or provide me with any direction as to where I could turn to help my child. I was literally told my child was autistic, there was nothing the school (day care) could do for her, and then directed to the door. I was twenty-five, the only things I knew about “autism” came from the movie Rain Man, and I had just three weeks before I was to return to work.
That’s it. That’s where my story began. Thankfully it was not a long chapter in my life and thankfully my story did not end there. I will admit I had moments of “Why me?” and “Why my child?” I wondered if I was being punished for some wrong doing or bad choice I had made. Perhaps as you read this (if you are just embarking on your journey) you find yourself riddled with similar thoughts of grief and despair. To this I say allow yourself the briefest of moments to churn through those emotions. Then, after a good cry, dry your tears, stand up straight, and thank God for the blessing that is your child. Know there are no mistakes, and “God don’t make junk.” Understand that your child is still the biggest blessing in your life; different — yes, but NOT less.
For me autism has been a blessing. My children are blessings. From them I have learned to appreciate all the little things that are in fact not so little. I have learned to recognize the gifts and talents in others even when their gifts and talents do not look like mine. Autism has made me a better mother, wife and teacher. In short, autism has made me a better human-being.
As a result of my experience I now strive to help others by sharing our story, and the stops taken along our journey. A lot has changed in the world since 2003. Awareness regarding autism has spread exponentially since I first encountered it. I am happy to do my part to spread awareness and share the joy that can be autism.