Driving home from therapy one day last week I noticed the grass was green outside. Every change of the season seems like it just happens over night. Every year I think, "Wow! We have green grass again! Look over there....we have a tree blooming again." It always sneaks in before we know. However, if you really think about...it really is a slow process. I'm sure one morning the grass that was still brown from the winter time actually had a few strands of green grass. Then the next morning had a few more and so on.
I couldn't help but think how much the change of seasons in Illinois reminds me of autism.
What do I mean??
Well......autism comes and sneaks into your child before you know it. The perfect, beautiful, healthy baby that you had the pleasure to give birth to slowly slips away. Autism sneaks in like a thief in the night and takes away everything you had dreamed and prayed for. You have the most amazing gift and that is a healthy baby (who you thought was just a difficult baby) and a happy family for a few months and then you start to notice one day that your healthy but difficult baby just doesn't look at you like he once did, if at all. Your healthy but difficult baby is suddenly 18 months old but still cries like a newborn all the time because the words he once had left him and he has no way to communicate anymore. Your healthy but difficult baby doesn't want you to hug him anymore but instead he would rather hit himself in the head or hit his family members. You start wondering why you can never take your child out in public and show him off because all he does is scream and run way from you. Your healthy but difficult baby's sleep gets worse and worse by the day and month. You spend more time controlling meltdowns in the night than sleeping. Your healthy but difficult baby would rather line toys up every minute of the day than to play with toys appropriately with Mommy. You soon realize that his world isn't about spending time with Mommy, Daddy, or any other family member, but its all about objects and obsessions.
You ask yourself every day what is going on?????? You and your spouse try to talk about it but all that does is end up in a HUGE argument. You try to tell your spouse that something is wrong but he disagrees which only makes the arguing worse. Instead of leaning on each other for support, your life takes you in opposite directions. Before you know it, autism has completely took over your son and your family life.
The dreams of healthy kids and fun family vacations are gone. Instead your life is all about autism, therapy, and finding your family's "new normal". Finding your family's new normal is hard to do when everyone else around you is living their lives like you were suppose to. You still continue to try to attend family and church function when you can but NOTHING about it is relaxing. While you are constantly pacing around the house trying to calm your child down..... or keep him off the table...or keep him from breaking every item he can put his hands on.....you soon realize that not one person has even spoke to you because you are running around the facility chasing your child. All the while you hear in the background about people's vacations....or what their chlid is doing....or who they just picked to be on their fantasy football team.....or who just won the World Series.....or how they are planning on going shopping the next day.......and all you want to do is to tell everyone to SHUT UP, BE QUIET, and start showing your child and family some common courtesy because you have been up for 36 hours straight and all you did the night before was drive your child around on the country roads from midnight to 4 AM to stop a meltdown. Therefore, you don't even want to step out of your house because everywhere is a constant reminder of normal life....even your own family functions.
What family members and friends don't realize is just how hard it is to hear about their life and that is so sad to admit and say.
The once normal shopping trips to the store for groceries becomes more painful each year. It is always a guarantee that you see someone your child's age. I don't know how many times I have been in complete shock watching a child Trenton's age that is normal because I am always amazed at what they can do.
The only way to not get yourself more depressed than what you already are is so simply STAY HOME in your prison cell.
Then before you know it, it's been two years of therapies and life with the "A" word....autism. Two years later and nothing is getting easier. In fact in some some ways, it is getting harder. As I was thinking about autism on my drive that day I also was thinking about the last time I had a good laugh. As many of you who know me personally, know that I had an unforgettable kind of laugh. I had a very distinguishable kind of laugh. I can't tell you the last time when I heard that laugh was. To be honest, I don't laugh these days. There is nothing to laugh about! I guess you can say I have a new laugh just like my new normal life.
The same goes for pictures of myself. I look at pictures of my pre-autism life and my eyes were so filled of life! I had eyes that were full of life! Now in pictures my eyes tell you how sleep deprived I am...how depressed I am....and how much weight I have gained from stress over the past few years.
Instead of waking up and looking forward to what the day brings, you look forward to when the house will be calm and quiet so you can get a few minutes of shut eye again. Your daily worries are much different than your next door neighbors. You worry each and every day about dying because you are the one person in this world that CAN"T DIE!! Death is on your mind daily because it can't happen to you. Your child needs you! If you aren't worrying about dying, you are worrying about who will take care of your child when you can't?? You know no one in any type of facitility will care for him like his Mommy. So yes instead of worrying about baseball or football games, you are a constant worrier about death.
As you can see, autism brings more daily struggles to families than you can imagine. Autism sneaks in slowly and takes away your child....autism takes the parents in the same direction or the opposite direction........autism changes your world and NOTHING will ever be normal again. However, it is the life we were given and I am proud to be apart of this journey and my autism blessings!