And now here’s Diane…..
Did you dream you were going to marry your soul mate, buy a big house, have perfect children (a boy and a girl) and live happily ever after? Well, I bought the whole fairy tale… hook, line and sinker!
Buddy and I were married on a hot and humid day in June. Just four brief months into our new marriage, I became pregnant. After nine long months, a healthy baby boy with ten fingers and ten toes was born.
For the first six months or so, Michael Andrew didn’t do much except sleep, eat, cry and poop. We didn’t know anything about colic, but we soon learned he had it! He cried all the time and sleep deprivation entered our lives. We eventually learned that diluted pickle juice (called “Gripe Water”) helped more than rocking him for hours. It also worked better than putting him in the car seat on top of the vibrating dryer, or driving with him in the car seat in the middle of the night. We thought the tough part was over… or was it?
We were pretty clueless as parents, and after we got through the colic things started to go pretty well. Michael did all of the “normal things” at the “right times” – crawling, walking, talking, spitting up and putting his little fingers under the closed bathroom door.
Shortly after Michael’s eightenn month vaccinations, we started to notice some developmental oddities. Michael had only been talking for a brief time, but after his shots, his words just vanished. He was afraid of animals, and lined up his trains and cars in perfect rows instead of playing with them. We weren’t sure if he had lost his hearing or just ignoring us.
Matthew Alexander joined our tribe when Michael turned two. Needless to say, we were overwhelmed by having a new baby, but we couldn’t dismiss Michael’s peculiar behavior. One day, I ran across an article about a little boy with Autism and we knew it was time to face the facts and “get out of the closet.” Autism had stolen our son and changed my dream into a nightmare.
Michael was three and a half when he was diagnosed with Autism. It was at this time that he started school and we joined an Autism support group. At our first meeting, I cried like a baby. Seeing that I was a “first time offender,” many people showed their support and gave me their phone numbers. It was a relief to see all of these other parents with similar issues and to know that we weren’t all alone in this scary new world. We learned to grieve the loss of our “typical” son and embrace our “special“ son. There were times when I was ready to “roll up my sleeves” and work with him. And other times, I was exhausted and depressed wondering why our beautiful son had Autism.
After a while, many of us parents learned to laugh at our situations and share our frustrations as well as victories. For example, Michael wanted me to drive through our entire neighborhood every day just to look at houses. Our ten minute drive home would end up taking an hour. Either we went on the drive or he had a total meltdown.
Another problem I had to deal with was the full-blown tantrums Michael had that resulted from his inability to communicate. When we were out in public, people often looked at us like we were awful parents with a spoiled child. Michael did look “normal,” but these spectators had no idea what he had to go through each day. Great victories came when Michael potty-trained at five. He also learned to ride a bike, could jump on a trampoline and eventually started to develop speech again.
Michael is now twenty four and struggles less with Autism. He needs a little guidance with social skills and his literal, innocent approach to life. However, he strives to be just like any other adult. He is independent, can cook, does laundry, drives a car, works and lives in an apartment with his brother! He wants to have lots of friends, date and eventually get married.
The ending of my fairy tale dream goes something like this: After twenty five years of marriage, I married my soul mate, have two awesome sons and live in a modest house. Happiness is really a choice, so we choose to live as a “happily ever after” family with a little twist!
You can contact Diane at HadleyD4@gmail.com.
NOTE FROM MARCIA HINDS – Megan and Ryan’s mom:
Ryan became an aerospace engineer, because he received proper medical treatment combined with behavioral, and educational interventions. To preview my book, “I Know You’re In There – winning our war against autism”go to Amazon or my website www.autism-and-treatment.com
Contact info for Marcia: