Six Years Later, I Am Still Learning To Accept Autism
This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at Atypical Familia.
I will never forget the day my son, Norrin, was diagnosed with autism. The days, weeks and months that followed I felt this overwhelming sense of loss and sadness. At the time of Norrin’s diagnosis he had no speech; he couldn’t point his finger and lacked imaginative play skills. That was six years ago. Norrin has had made significant progress. We’ve celebrated many milestones since then because we’ve seen how hard he’s worked to achieve the things that come so naturally to other children his age.
Norrin is now 8 years old and has been autistic for most of his life. The constant feelings loss and sadness have long subsided. I don’t wish to cure Norrin’s autism and I don’t believe it’s the worst thing that could have happened.
Autism has become part of our every day. It’s so common to us that I don’t even think about it. And since Norrin is my only child, I have no idea what it’s like to raise a “typical” kid. I focus on the things Norrin can do rather than the things that he can’t. And I tell myself that he will meet those milestones in his own time.
We were on vacation last week. We went to Walt Disney World – the Most Magical Place on Earth. It’s the place most kids dream about. I watched as other families waited on line, as kids excitedly pointed to rides wanting to get on. They wanted to watch the parade, posed for pictures and looked like they were having fun. And while other kids were having fun, Norrin – after the second ride – had a complete meltdown. He started crying uncontrollably and said he wanted to go back to the hotel over and over again. I tried to console him but nothing I said soothed, he was ready to leave.
In that moment, I was reminded of autism. And all those feelings of loss crept in.
As we were walking out of the park, I felt defeated and disappointed. It had been years since we had a vacation and I wanted Norrin to have fun. I wished that we were like every other family in the park, the ones you see in the commercial. I know I shouldn’t compare but sometimes it’s hard not to. “Why does something fun have to be so hard?” I wondered.
We returned to the hotel, changed into our bathing suits and went down to the pool. We spent the next few hours splashing, swimming and having fun. Norrin was having a blast swimming under water and practicing floating on his back. The pool was small enough that I could sit on a nearby lounge chair and watch. It was a luxury and I appreciated the moment. Hours earlier at the park, I held his hand tightly, too scared to let go.
I love my son and I have accepted autism. Six years ago, I couldn’t see beyond his diagnosis. I couldn’t have imagined the progress he’s made. We have good days and not so good days. Days when I can forget autism exists and moments when autism is overwhelming. And during those moments, I have to accept autism all over again.
Catch up with last week’s post: Father and Son Bonding When Your Son Has Autism
From my other blog:
- The Perfect Father’s Day Lunch at Blue Smoke
- Packing For Vacation and Other Travel Tips
- All About The Little Mermaid and Swimming With Flounder
Tags: autism, Autism Hopes, Disability, Lisa Quinones Fontanez, Special needs, special needs parenting, special needs parenting advice | Categories: Autism, Children With Special Needs, Disability, Health