Autism--it is a spectrum. It is something I knew nothing about. My son Brenden was diagnosed late, at age six. Even getting the evaluation was a hundred-to-one odds. But I was a mother first, and I found the people who would help my son be the best he could be. It was the hardest thing to do. From learning the signs to understanding about early Child Find, to figuring out where and what was that appropriate education. Getting that education seemed to be as delayed as my child. Time was not a friend, but I found miracles all around us.
Through years of speech and language, occupational and physical therapies, the delineation became visible. Learning all I could about finding the resources and support to show progress, I continued to follow my intuition and persist for answers. If I heard of something that was a success, I sought it out. I made it happen. I went outside the school system for evaluations and therapy. When I realized his vision was an issue, I found the doctors to help and then was able to transfer that into his Individual Education Program (IEP). I believed and functioned as I was an equal member of the IEP team.
This is not a story of recovery but of hard work and instilling that ability to advocate for what you need into the child you are helping. It is a survival guide for those who are lost in the maze of the process. My child who never uttered sounds for so long will graduate from college this year. There is always something to be grateful for and celebrate. Along the way, we had a cast of characters, some on our side, some not. I made mistakes but never lost hope. In the entanglement of your life, you have to hold on for one more day. You must be unbreakable. This has changed all of us, but I have no regrets, only promises to keep.