Hi Baby Boy —
A year ago, when you turned 25 months old to the day, you were formally diagnosed with Autism. But I already knew.
At a year old, I knew that we were going to have to fight extra hard for you. We had already done a great deal of fighting to get you here, so it is nothing we weren’t accustomed to.
You did not have any words — not Mama or Dada. None. But while you smiled and cooed with glee, I could not get you to clap, to point, or to wave. You loved the Itsy Bitsy Spider, but only if I would take your hands to do the motions. It was not that you could not do it, it was that I could not get you to choose to do it.
At 18 months, the fight really started. We had been in speech and occupational therapy two times a week each for 6 months. We saw no progress.
Our loved ones said — “He will talk!” “Your brothers took forever to talk and look how they turned out!” My neighbors son did not talk until 3! You have plenty of time!”
They may have all been right, but they also are not your mama. I knew. I knew I had to put my game face on.
We went through evaluation after evaluation. I say “we” because you did the work, but my heart did the feeling. I sat there and watched as they pushed you and you pushed back. With each evaluation, I knew we were closer and closer.
I feared a diagnosis so much. When the time came, I told the doctor that even if Autism was the diagnosis, I did not know if I wanted it in writing. I knew it would hurt.
Did we even want a diagnosis? You were only two. Did we want that label at two years old? That is such a big label for a tiny little boy.
Looking back though, once it was time for a diagnosis, the worst was over. We had pushed you and you had pushed us. You cried. We cried. But the leg work had been done and it was time to get you the help you needed.
On our first day of therapy after diagnosis, you cried so hard and fought so much. By the time I put you in the car to go home, I was covered in sweat and I chased that with hot and fast tears.
But your new therapist said as she rubbed your little arm, “He is just so rigid. But we will fix that.” I knew we had made the right decision. The fight was worth it.
After just 6 months of intense therapy every single day with people who love and push you like their own, you showed VAST improvement.
It was no longer ‘if” you were going to talk and “if” you were going to close the gap. Instead, it was “WHEN.” And we are learning that “when” is in your own time.
I no longer look at friends’ babies with jealousy as they talk and interact. Instead, I look forward to when you will say that funny thing or when you will interact that way. Because you will. We’ve seen how you do. I knew you had it in you.
I now no longer count the words you have because you do not stop talking. You do not just clap but clap for yourself with absolute joy after each thing you do. You can count to 115, maybe higher. You know the ABCs backwards and forwards. You know all of the colors, and I never knew purple was such a cute color until you said it. But maybe even best of all, you know and can identify each member of our family and know that you have to take “Highway 90” to get to some of them.
I knew I’d have to fight and I am so glad I did.
You are the funniest, flirtiest, smartest, and STRONGEST little boy I know. You are only 3. As I type, you are 39 months old.
I cannot wait to see how far you go and the stomp you put on that gap we are working everyday to close.
You have worked so hard in a year. You have come so far.
One day we will look back on November 27, 2017, and realize that while it was a day you got a label, it was the day we found the key — the key to unlock your earth-shattering potential.
I love you more than all fight I have in me. I hope you know.