My son Reece is 11 and has Autism.  He was diagnosed at the age of 4, back in 2002.  Since then, he has grown tremendously with the help of behavioral therapy, good teachers & therapists, biomedical intervention & countless other treatments….it has been a beautiful & challenging  journey.  When I look at video of him as a baby now, I am amazed at his growth.  There was a time when I didn’t know if he would ever speak…and now he never stops.  I made a slideshow of his journey a couple of years ago, when  Reece was having a rough time – with school, with behaviors, with anxiety…. I needed something to help me remember how far he had come because I felt as though we were sliding backwards.   When you have a child with autism, you experience waves of grief, not just when you get the diagnosis, but on and off throughout their lives.  Grief for a child who is alive.  Alive but not living the way you had thought he would.  It’s rather strange…..but it still happens to me – even though my son is “high-functioning”, even though he has speech, even though he is doing well in school…..my worries for his future are immeasurable.  They keep me up at night.  Will he go to college and get a job?  Will he be able to live on his own?  Will he find someone who will love him and be there for him when I am gone?  Overwhelming.  This is why God made Xanax…truly.

While I do not consider myself to be an expert on Autism, I AM an expert on my child.  So many times we, as parents, when in an IEP, or talking to a Doctor, are made to feel as though we have no idea what is best for our child.  We are made to feel that our worries are irrational, that we could not possibly know what our child needs because we are not experts.  This is what is most frustrating to me about this whole experience.  Nobody  can tell me what is best for MY child.  I’m his mother!  We need to remember to trust out guts when it comes to our kids….I truly believe we were meant to travel this journey together.  I cannot imagine my life without Reece – he, like my other children, has taught me to love at a depth I did not think possible.  It is through him that I have come to know myself and feel my connection to the source of all love.

So, my hopes for today – and every day – is that we begin to understand and accept all people living with Autism.  More awareness leads to more acceptance –  my child deserves to learn and grow just like every other child.  And if you’re in a store and you see a child having a meltdown, or you see a child “acting like a brat”…..don’t be so quick to judge.  You don’t know what the whole story is – that may very well be a child with Autism and that parent is doing the very best they can with what they have at that moment.   I cannot count how many times I got “that look” from someone in a store.  At one point, when Reece was 3 and the twins were 1, and I had to take them all to the store…..or to run errands – I wanted to make a shirt that said “Stop staring – yes, they are twins, yes, the older one has Autism, and yes, I have my hands full.”  (People would always say that to me, in that ‘tone’ – you know the one.  The ‘oh my God. I am so glad I’m not you, but I’m acting as though I care’ tone. And while we’re on the subject, if you don’t have a child with Autism, stop making comments on people’s blogs about treatments for Autism – stop calling people crazy for not vaccinating their kids, for putting them on special diets, for trying alternative therapies.  Seriously – stop it.  There is no one-stop shopping cart for this – no list of “What to do to get your kid better”.  There are a TON of therapies out there, and I’ve probably tried most of them – we lovingly call Reece our “Golden Child”, considering the money we have spent on trying to get him better, more integrated, and less anxious.  We have to try everything – and hope that something works.  I’m not trying to change who he is – I’m trying to help him be the best of who he already is. So stop judging us – offer to help!  Change your perspective and learn to accept our differences.  (hey, a girl can dream, right?)

This is one of my favorite shots of Reece ~ he’s about 2 1/2 and we’re at my Mom’s house

in Louisiana….he was in constant motion during that time, but he stopped for

a minute to let me get this ~ love how he just happens to be holding the flower.

Seriously, had to be fast to catch him.

reeceflower_1

And look at him now!  Almost 12 ~ just the epitome of love and purity.

reecemarch-1

Reece has his own blog now – although he hasn’t updated it in awhile….I’m trying to get him back into it.

It’s pretty funny to  watch his videos ~ check it out at

http://reecejude.blogspot.com/

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