After 9 months of waiting and planing out their entire life, it finally happens. Your little miracle arrives. When you see your child for the first time you can’t even breathe. You feel love like you have never thought possible. You may have loved many people or things in your life but nothing comes close this. Everything is perfect and you bring them home to begin your new life as a parent. After a few months, you get into the groove of things. Everything soon becomes second nature. Time will pass so quickly as you are watching your child grow. At some point you start to notice things. They’re little at first and you probably shouldn’t worry but you do anyway. You visit your pediatrician for some peace of mind. They tell you it is nothing to worry about and they’ll be just fine. You go home feeling like maybe you’re just being overly protective. However, after a while it becomes clear that something is wrong. Your child just seems detached and less interested in you. You return to your pediatrician, part of you is expecting to once again to hear everything is ok. The other part of you terrified that it’s not. This time however, it’s different and you hear the word Autism for the first time. That moment will be etched into your memory and life as you know it will be forever changed.
Your heart is broken in a way that never truly heals. Panic sets in and you literally feel your entire world shatter like broken glass and come crashing down around you. Then all of the questions begin swirling around in your head. What happened? What does this mean for them or for you? Will your child even be ok? Then the big ones hit. You begin to question yourself. Is this your fault? What did you miss? Are you even strong enough to do this? You will learn and eventually come to accept the fact that it is not your fault but it takes time for that to happen and honestly part of you will never believe it.
You are about to begin a new journey. One you had not planned on or prepared for. This journey will take you through heartbreak, frustration, exhaustion, guilt and despair. Most of your dreams for the future are now just a faded memory. There will be times you will think you have hit rock bottom only to fall further. Make no mistake, this journey will be very difficult and you will lose friends and family because they are not equipped to travel along with you. You will see who your true friends and family are and move forward and leave the rest behind.
The heartache and pain will give birth to compassion, unconditional love and acceptance. This journey will be challenging but also amazing and the most important thing you will ever do. You will learn things about yourself that only your Autistic child could teach you. Life will slow down because you know how precious every single minute is. All the things that you can do despite the challenges will soon replace all the things you thought you would miss because of them. You will fight EVERY MINUTE of EVERY SINGLE DAY to remove any burden your child carries and yet you will accept and love them for who they are. The strength to pick yourself up and move forward on even the darkest days will be found in every hug and kiss you receive because they have new meaning to you. Nothing will ever be taken for granted no matter how big or small because you now see the world differently.
When you have reached the end of your journey you will finally realize that you were never the teacher. Your child has been the one teaching you all along. Everything that you are now is a result of all your child has taught you along the way.