Noah was officially diagnosed with autism when he was three. I had no idea how much my life would change with this diagnosis. It was devastating in the beginning. It was like I went through a grieving process. I was terrified about his future. We had no idea what to expect. Autism has no two kids alike. They call it a spectrum for a reason because the severity and behaviors vary from kid to kid. The things that you assumed would come naturally were now a waiting game. Sometimes I wondered if those milestones would ever happen. Having a typical kid before Noah meant that I already had my own preconceived ideas of the things he would do as he grew. Maybe it’s my own fault but I assumed he would be a lot like his brother. I assumed he would be athletic and want to play sports but he had no interest. He loved dinosaurs, animals and bugs. I assumed that he would be a little chatter box and talk non stop but instead I was thrilled to get him to say any words at all. The worries and fears that I had for Noah and his future were new territory for me.
How will he be treated by his peers? Will he be bullied? Will he ever have a best friend? Will other kids play with him on the playground or will he even acknowledge them if they approach him? Will he be able to continue to be in a traditional classroom? Will he go to prom? Will he graduate? Will he go on to college? Will he move out on his own? Will he get married? Will he have kids? The list of questions for his future could go on and on. Some days I let these questions and these worries take over my mind but recently I read a quote that helped me change the way I was thinking.
“Don’t let your fears for the future stop your joys in the present.”
It occurred to me that I’ve been letting so many of my fears get in the way of the day to day successes that we have. I’m working on just taking things day by day instead of worrying constantly about what the future holds for him.
Noah has had so many breakthroughs this year. He has learned to ask for help instead of getting frustrated and crying. He has learned to wait (2.5 mins to be exact) before he asks again for something. He has adjusted to being in a traditional classroom. He is making progress academically and has been able to learn in an environment with all typical kids around him. He has learned to look to his peers to do what they are doing if he didn’t understand the directions given by the teacher.
One of my biggest fears has always been him being bullied. We are so lucky that it is not an issue in his class. There are 3 girls in particular that go out of their way to help him. I get emotional when I think about the fact that they have taken on the job of helping him without being asked to do so. Kids can be wonderful, kind and loving little humans.
When the autism community talks about autism awareness and acceptance we want to teach everyone but I feel like adults need the most teaching. Kids model what they learn at home. I’m just happy that we have amazing kids and parents in Noah’s class that practice patience and kindness toward others that are different. They give me hope.