I am a mother of a son with autism

Does anyone know someone who is labeled “special needs?” You probably do. I think what is hard in life is dealing with the unexpected, what we don’t feel prepared for. How do you ever prepare to be a parent? I’d read the books and thought I knew what to expect when having a baby. My husband said that my son didn’t read the book. This is not what I expected.

My childbirth was also not what I expected. I had been running, eating well, took my vitamins, went to check ups, and tried to have a “perfect” pregnancy. I didn’t get too sick. I was tired and my belly grew, and I thought things looked normal. 

I had read my What to Expect When Expecting and other books. In my last trimester we took a childbirth class at the hospital. I wanted to be prepared, right? We watched the different birthing movies in the class. For the c-section film the nurse said it might be a bit graphic so I didn’t watch it. Why would I need a c-section? That wasn’t part of my plan. I wasn’t high risk and it didn’t seem likely.

Well, I was induced at 40 weeks and had a 8 pound baby inside of my 5 foot body. He wasn’t coming very easily. After some scares with the baby’s heart rate and extreme contractions that doctor said it was time to “sharpen the knives.” That’s what he said! By this time I had been up all night in labor and didn’t care anymore. I wanted the baby to come out and if this was our best option, ok. My baby seemed fine and ate well. 

I knew when my son really wasn’t speaking at 2 that he was “different.” He wasn’t verbal but pointed. He learned to say “ham” when we read Green Eggs and Ham. Later he learned songs and he eventually did say a bit, which thrilled me!

My son didn’t sleep. He took short naps, but didn’t sleep much.(he’s 20 and still doesn’t sleep much.) He was very bright and read early. Trains were his favorite toys and he could build amazing tracks.

As my son grew we had him tested by different doctors and psychologists to know how to best help him. After reading a lot about autism I felt he was on the spectrum. It helped to know there were other kids like him. His diagnosis is Asperger’s Syndrome. He is a sensitive boy, but not aware of all the social clues other people see.

To me he will always be enough. I didn’t want to change him, but to help him adapt to the crazy world around him. He survived public school with the help of counselors, principals, and some amazing teachers. We had an IEP for him to have accommodations at school. I feel like I’ve had to really fight for my son. Some teachers were not helpful and sometimes I thought he could just get his GED. But he liked the robotics team and he needed the experiences and training I couldn’t give him.

He found his way. I talked to him often and tried to support him. I gave him ideas for school work without doing the work for him. He got his driver’s license at 17 and a job at 18 and is at a technical college studying computers.

Social skills are always going to be a struggle for him, but I feel like because he is accepted at home he is more self assured. He shares his thoughts now and has always been a kind, sensitive boy.

My son has taught me unconditional love, patience, and acceptance to name a few things. In life I have to accept what I cannot change. Instead of saying “why is this happening?” I have to say “what can I learn?” Life is about struggling and learning. You have to keep going when you don’t want to anymore.