We are going on two years since Beckett was presented with the word Autism on paper.
But it’s been six years in total, with Autism swirling our world.
You don’t wake up one day and find yourself autistic.
You don’t fall asleep counting sheep, planning your day ahead, and wake suddenly feeling your mind clustered with thoughts, and noise, and anxiety surrounding social situations.
Autism is with you, or it isn’t. Always.
The only difference in age of diagnosis is just that: age.
But before you’re presented with it, given a “name” to call it by, you were always who you were.
And always autistic.
Just maybe better (or worse) at masking it, or navigating its waves.
And the most important thing I have learned since my six year-old son was handed that term, is that as a mother, a father, a caregiver… burying your head in the sand helps no one.
Losing sleep, wishing with all my might, for my beautiful boy to experience an easier, safer, less anxiety-riddled life, would not simply provide him those things.
I wish I could get back all those nights I stayed awake, leaving mini puddles on my pillow, worrying about the “label” and what people would assume of his world;
Assume of his abilities and strength.
I wish I could go back and explain to myself that Autism is not a death sentence for our beautiful son’s personality, or character, or otherwise.
It changes nothing of who he is inside and out.
It just gives us a rounder explanation of his challenges.
I wish I could jump back and walk myself through those first forms, first steps, and anxiety, and tell myself to breathe.
To teach myself that the ONLY way to get our son help, and services, and resources, is to grab that diagnosis, that label, with both hands, and never take “no” for an answer.
I’d share what I’ve quickly learned, that in order to open doors for our boy, we have to hear the words, feel the emotions as they come (as we all do as parents… as human beings), and have to sometimes watch other doors close.
Even if they just close temporarily.
The best thing I have ever done for my son is take him in for that initial evaluation.
Not because we needed confirmation, or clarification, or justification, but because it opened up a world for him to be seen.
It opened up a door that we didn’t know existed, full of tips for gathering aid in school, and therapies for life skills.
A door with a path to understanding, and strong advocacy, and friendships with unspoken shared experiences.
A wealth of knowledge on how to properly advocate for Beckett’s needs, as well as for his voice, in a world catered to a different mold.
And it gave us the tools to learn and grow, to then educate the beautiful people that surround his world and love him.
Beckett’s autism diagnosis handed us a glimmering manual of how to specifically make his life as easy and exciting, and joyful as possible for him, and that’s all we’ve ever wanted.
A piece of paper that we dreaded receiving, in fear of what that meant for his life, was what granted him access to all the outside support, to better it.
And I wish I could go tell my past self not to drag my feet.
If you’re there at the very beginning; if you’re standing at the starting line, just know that forward is the best and only way to go.
Your child’s life is important, and unique, and beautiful.
And you’re doing everything you can, just by opening that door.
They say knowledge is power, and it couldn’t be more true.
The more you learn about autism, and individuals like our boy, the less you will fear of “new” and the unexpected.
To understand is to grow.
And because of this little six year-old ball of light, we have grown as people.
We’ve grown in our relationship as husband and wife, grown as parents, grown as a family.
We’ve grown in knowledge, in acceptance of worldly differences, in mindfulness, and in heart.
And it all happened when we plucked our heads from the sand, and held it high upon our shoulders;
Just as our Beckett always has.