Five Years After An Autism Diagnosis (part 2)

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at AutismWonderland.

To read Five Years After An Autism Diagnosis (part 1 – On The Day My Son Was Diagnosed with Autism) click HERE

I cannot believe it’s been five years since my son Norrin was diagnosed with autism. Sunday, May 19th – our autism anniversary – passed with little fanfare. It was a rainy, lazy and dreary day. My husband, Joseph, took a two hour nap, I did laundry and relaxed for a while with a good book. I played with Norrin - we worked on a art project that required patience, concentration and using his pincer grasp.

The day before we spent the afternoon walking around Arthur Avenue – the Little Italy Section of The Bronx. After we went to the playground and walked around the shops, we ate lunch at Mario’s, one of our favorite restaurants. I indulged in a glass of wine, Joseph ordered a beer. When Norrin told the waiter what he wanted to drink, he used the words please and thank you. Norrin sat patiently with his iPad as we waited for our food – and when he got anxious or too loud, we prompted him and he was able to continue playing nicely.  Joseph and I talked about our week, the errands we needed to do and summer plans. We reminisced that Mario’s was where we had one of our first dates (almost 13 years ago). I don’t even think the subject of autism came up.

The weekend for the most part was uneventful and not any different from our usual weekend, like any other “normal” family. We go to the park, we go out to eat, we run errands, we do chores, we sit back and enjoy the moment.

Five years ago, I couldn’t see our life returning to normal. I couldn’t see us going out to eat as a family or me sitting on the sofa reading a book that wasn’t autism related. Five years ago, I didn’t know anyone raising an autistic child. I didn’t even know what autism was. When I think back to the first days after Norrin was diagnosed, it was so hard to have hope. Because there was no one who could offer it – not even the doctor who diagnosed Norrin.

Then we started working with therapists and found an appropriate center based program for Norrin. And slowly we started seeing progress. Norrin learned to point and say a few words. He learned to makes the signs for more and all done. With each new accomplishment, I was given a glimmer of hope. They were often the milestones that kept me going.

Five years ago I couldn’t see beyond all the things Norrin couldn’t do. Now I see how far he’s come and celebrate everything Norrin can do. All the little things like a smile or a wave or a spontaneous WH question.

It’s been amazing watching Norrin grow up, watching him grow with autism. Seeing it evolve and mature. He is no where near being a ‘typical’ kid but he’s happy. At seven years old, Norrin has enough language to get his basic needs met. He uses the bathroom independently (though still needs some supervision). Norrin navigates the iPad better than many adults.  He has a playful and loving disposition, lots of opinions and a fierce determination. He’s one of the hardest working seven-years old I know and I admire him.

I wish that I could say that it’s gotten easier during these last five years. It hasn’t. I am still learning every day. There are nights when I still worry about Norrin’s future and cry. But I have a community of parents who understand me. I have people who I can look to for guidance. I have seen progress. I have hope.

I think about Norrin five years ago and where he is now. And I know in another five years I will look back at his progress with amazement. Norrin’s come such a long way. And so have I.


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