Wow. I'm not sure even where to begin. I've been crying for a good hour because I just found out that my son can do pre-algebra. We were sitting at the kitchen table doing some makeup work from class that he missed and sure enough he gets to a section of his math homework that says "N+6=14+5." He asked me if I knew how to do the question and I kind of laughed because math is not my thing, so then he went ahead and "taught" me how to solve for N. At first I was so excited but my eyes were quickly filled with tears. I'm not talking like little tears, I'm talking like the UGLY uncontrollable sobbing tears that give you a headache afterwards. He saw me crying and asked me if they were tears of joy and I said YES! I'M SO PROUD OF YOU!! But really he has no idea just how proud I am.
JD is 8 and a half now. He was diagnosed with autism 6.5 years ago. When he was diagnosed he couldn't talk, couldn't walk and really had no connection with the world other than through his Thomas the Tank Engine trains and videos. The feeling I felt on the day of his diagnosis was complete fear and sadness. We didn't know if he'd be able to communicate or connect with us, what his future held or how far he would grow. We just jumped into therapy and hoped for the best but honestly expected the worse.
His autism journey has been really hard. If you didn't know him when he was 2, then it can be really hard see how far he's come. He had severe sensory, behavior and social/emotional issues. We did 30 hours a week of therapy - OT, Speech, ABA. Our world was 100% autism focused. Each year has gotten a little better and even though he still struggles with social issues, he has really overcome the majority of the other problems. Now we deal with his obsessive tendencies, rigidness and difficulties fitting in, but to see him succeed at something makes all of the hard times seem worth it.
So while I really don't want to share this horrible picture of me and my ugly tears, this is what it looks like to be an autism parent... losing it when your child who struggles every single day succeed at something. Maybe it's not pre-algebra, maybe it's just saying their first word, or sliding down a slide for the first time unassisted (I remember those days), maybe it's playing side-by-side with a friend instead of alone, or being invited to a birthday party. Maybe it's learning to swim or ride a bike. Whatever it is, each accomplishment is so amazing!
So let the ugly tears flow!... better yet, share the ugly tears with the world so they can feel it too! Because for every accomplishment JD makes, there are millions of other kids on the autism spectrum that are making BIG accomplishments today too and we shouldn't be ashamed to show how happy we are for them!
I love you JD! You have made me a better person and my life is better because I have you in it!