What a Difference a Year Can Make: One Year From Autism Diagnosis

by J

I meant to write this post last week, since as of March 29th it has been one year since S received his autism diagnosis. If you like, you can read this post about S’s journey to diagnosis. And while we may not have known that S received his autism diagnosis until May- we knew in our hearts during that meeting in March. (can you say “new car” and “retail therapy” in the same sentence?)

This time last year, I was so struck with grief, anger and hopelessness, that it is painful to think back to that time. What breaks my heart, is knowing that right now, there are new sets of parents going through the process of accepting diagnosis and a new set of sweet little souls having to deal with this disorder.

So, for all of you new parents out there, who are trying to grasp the concept of living with autism and what that means for you child, know this: While autism has given my son many struggles, it has also given him so many great and endearing quirks that make him the awesome little dude he is. Autism has proven to not be as horrible as I first thought it to be- S has made leaps and bounds this past year and there are lots of things to celebrate.

And so, where are we now? What has this first year brought us?

Well, as a parent, I have good days and bad days. Not surprisingly, those are directly related to our son’s good days and bad days. I am, however, full of hope. Over this past year, S has closed so many gaps…

He has become verbal

He has some shared expression

He has learned his ABC’s

He no longer has frantic bouts with shoes or sleeves

He says “Mommy” and “Daddy”

We have even recently heard “I love you”

He has a friend

He can make eye contact

He is learning some social cues (thank you, excuse me, bless you)

He is starting to show empathy (kissing other’s boo boo’s)

And the list goes on.  This past year has brought S so much progress. And while there are still many struggles, it is easier to focus on the good- which is a great place to be. I will tell you one thing, you will never take any victory for granted. Each milestone is celebrated- no matter how small it may seem to others. Every step forward your child makes is a gift that you will cherish. As a parent, I feel that S’s autism has made me live in the now more- taking in every moment and enjoying my son to the fullest. That is a pretty awesome thing.

So, what will the next year bring?

Starting this month, we will begin to tour schools, as S is going to age out of his early intervention program. He will go to a 5 day a week class and have an IEP. He will take a bus and he will be away from me for 4 hours a day. Our little man is growing up and I know a new set of challenges lie ahead. I have become very comfortable with his early intervention team, and I am not looking forward to the change. But, I know that we must keep going forward… we have no choice, really.

While this past year was full of struggles it was also rich in victories. So, I can honestly say that I look forward to the coming year and what it will bring for S and our family. Here’s to a new year…