Voices of Autism: ‘I Mourned for My Hopes and Dreams’
Every day throughout April–Autism Awareness Month–we will be featuring a different reader-submitted story about living with autism. Today’s story was written by Jennifer Bush, mother of Wesley, a.k.a. Moe, 4, and author of the blog Anybody Want A Peanut?:
My son’s development seemed perfectly normal. He was independent, curious, and happy. At 18 months, Moe had just started walking and wasn’t talking much. He had a few signs and words he would use regularly, like banana and baby, but was inconsistent with many others. Gradually, Moe stopped speaking entirely. He didn’t point or respond to his name. We took Moe to the pediatrician just before his second birthday.
Around the same time, Moe’s strengths started to feel like odd behaviors. Moe could occupy himself for long periods of time, reading books or playing with cars. I thought I was lucky. But as Moe got older, his differences became clearer. When other kids were chasing each other or playing side by side, Moe would do his own thing. He was oblivious to their games, and would wander around the house or play by himself.
Still, we thought maybe Moe just had an introverted personality. For such little guys, it is hard to know the line between temperament and problematic behavior. If it weren’t for Moe’s speech delay, we wouldn’t have been too concerned. Autism was in the back of our minds, but we didn’t really believe that would be the diagnosis.
In fact, when Moe was first evaluated through the regional center, he was not given an autism diagnosis. I now realize that they are quite stingy with that diagnosis, lest they are forced to provide more than the minimum services. We had to pursue a private diagnosis and then go back to the Regional Center to request appropriate services. Those services included 25 hours per week of in-home behavior, speech, and occupational therapy.
My daughter was born just weeks before Moe’s therapy began. Those were some of the darkest days I’ve experienced. I mourned for my hopes and dreams for my family. I felt robbed of the chance to enjoy my newborn girl, as I sat watching hours of therapy, terrified of what would become of Moe and all that his diagnosis would mean for her. I couldn’t even imagine what would happen if she, too, were to be on the spectrum.
Moe is now going on 4, almost two years post-diagnosis. He is in our school district’s special day preschool. He is no longer bordering on the edges of autism, but firmly in its grasp: non-verbal, a sensory-seeker with multiple motor delays. He is also adorable, fun, mischievous, and affectionate. My daughter is a typically developing 2-year-old who may prove to be Moe’s greatest teacher.
I’m grateful to have had the chance to meet and interact with amazing people in the autism community: therapists, teachers, and fellow bloggers. This year we will also walk for the first time in the Bay Area’s Walk Now for Autism Speaks, and join the thousands of others in raising funds and our voices for Autism awareness.Add a Comment