My Son Is Not Autism
I called my son over to the couch and asked him to sit with me.
“What did you need Mom? Are you writing a new post?” my son asked inquisitively.
I found myself getting nervous, “I wanted to write a post… about you.”
“Me?! What is it about?” He now seemed to be bubbling with anticipation.
“I want to write about how you are on the Spectrum, for all the families out there who have a child with your diagnosis. I want to share in our struggles and give them hope with your story, about how great you are,” I said.
He didn’t even miss a beat. “I would love that Mom! I fully support you! Anything we can do to help others!” So here I am, with his permission.
After losing our two eldest children to a terminal diagnosis, we longed for a child. When we became pregnant again, our hope was renewed. As we waited anxiously to find out if he was physically healthy, we never thought once about Autism.
The day came when he was born. We were ecstatic. As they laid him in my arms, I was thrilled to finally have a child to take home and live happily ever after.
Our first son was whisked off to the NICU right after being born, so you can imagine that we were over the moon about keeping him in our arms.
Only, he cried constantly.
We were confused and had the nurse check him over. We were worried that maybe something was wrong. He didn’t seem to want to be held and seemed to cry no matter what we did. She assured us he was fine.
As each month went by, the only thing that consoled him was nursing and Baby Einstein movies. I became really depressed. I had dreamed of having a baby to cuddle, and in a cruel twist of fate, he wanted nothing to do with me.
We searched for answers, but were patted on the head and told maybe I was suffering from PTSD from the loss of our previous children. Somehow they thought I was projecting their loss on him. I was bewildered but tried to accept it as my own issue.
Still, I could not be comforted.
As he grew older, he became infatuated with the solar system. I am not talking about basic knowledge, but scientific terms. He was determined to learn how to walk at nine months, and was reading by the age of one.
He could care less about Sesame Street, and would rather watch space documentaries over playing with other children. He seemed oblivious to anything but what interested him. I wanted so much to reach him and have him reciprocate my love.
There were so many questions and I was doubting my mothering skills.
I began to read about Autism.
He had some of the markers and we decided to search deeper.
After speaking with our pediatrician, we were referred to a specialist to put my mind at ease.
I wrestled if we should take him and was scared. I didn’t want him labeled, yet the more I read about early intervention, the more I knew we had to pursue all avenues.
The day came to meet with the specialist and they confirmed what I had wondered, “He is on the Autism Spectrum. With early intervention, we have seen great results.”
I felt relieved and terrified.
Most of the therapies that had been suggested, we couldn’t afford. Even scarier, our insurance wouldn’t help cover them. We felt like failures as parents and wondered what we had done wrong.
We tried to pay for what services we could afford but got no results. The last option was to try an ECSE program. It was through the public schools, so it was free. However, it would be really hard to get him in as his diagnosis wasn’t as severe as some.
Initially, we were turned down. I literally begged them to let my son be accepted. They saw my desperation and had mercy on me.
I will never forget the school bus coming to pick up my little three-year-old son. I felt horrible and relieved all in one. They strapped him into the seat as he looked distantly over my head and never even looked back for comfort.
He went through two years of ECSE, where the teachers worked diligently with him. He learned to play with the kids and taught everyone everything he could about space. In Kindergarten, they decided to mainstream him, and he did beautifully.
When he was in the second grade, we noticed he was getting bullied. At first, he didn’t realize he was getting picked on. He would happily play alongside the other children as some mocked him. He eventually caught on and our confident boy began to suffer from terrible anxiety and nightmares.
Sadly, we had to pull him from the school that had brought us so much hope. I ended up taking the role as his teacher and we now homeschool. I am not a typical home-school mom, so it’s been a challenging undertaking. However, one with many benefits.
My son is now nine and thriving. Home-school has brought out the teacher in him. He loves to learn about new things and is an extrovert.
He makes me laugh almost every day. He thinks outside the box, and this has shown me a whole new world of learning.
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He is a great spirit with a big heart.
He follows the rules.
He knows what he likes and he is confident in who he is.
He isn’t tempted to follow the pack.
I know that life can be hard, but he has shown me what it is to persevere.
Many great thinkers and inventors have a similar personality type. Being different isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it’s his kind of thinking that helps make the world a better place.
Love is all about breaking down the labels and nurturing the beautiful potential that others might not see. We are blessed to be his parents and while it’s been a challenging road, it’s well worth the journey.
Kelly Nickerson is a homeschooling mama with two beautiful kids under her wing and four dancing in heaven. She also lives with her amazing husband, who supports her like no other. Kelly is a firecracker prayer warrior who shares honestly about her brokenness while praising and clinging to the G-d who sustains her. When she isn’t hunting down germs with disinfectant, you can find her writing of her adventures at kellynickerson.com