People say in life there are moments that you never forget. Moments that stands still in the sands of the hour glass. I have been around individuals with disabilities my entire life dating back to the birth of niece over 20 years ago. Watching her grow up and consistently having a smile on her face through all the missed milestones and operations was powerful. Her smile and interactions with those that she enjoyed spending time with are priceless. She is the number one reason I started working in the field with the “pay it forward” mentality of always being empathetic to the people we serve and maybe someone will reciprocate the same mentality when dealing with my niece.
Fast forward 18 years, and all the trainings and experience that I have obtained professionally still did not adequately prepare me for what was coming next. My son was born with autism. At the beginning it was very hard to see that my son had a disability as with most developmental delays you have to see if the appropriate milestones are reached at the corresponding times. My son walked at 11 months, started to speak a couple of words and was on track for his milestones. Then once he turned one it all changed.
Suddenly things began to change as my son’s vocabulary stopped growing and he wouldn’t even speak the couple of words he picked up earlier. Red flags were raised and I got him tested for autism. The testing thankfully was a painless process. The wait for the actual evaluation was gut wrenching. Once the evaluation was over the questions and the doubts started to dominate my train of thought. What did I do wrong? What if he does have a disability? What do I do next?
Autism. Hearing that your child has a disability is perhaps the most difficult thing to ever have to hear from a doctor. A Developmental Disability. A disability that would affect him in five key categories for the rest of his life. A disability that would alter his life and shape my dedication for the rest of my life. A disability that society is still getting educated on. Autism.
Today 3 ½ years later since the birth of son he is my life, my driving force behind spreading awareness and increasing his community inclusions to the store, movies, parks and beaches. Doing everything I can to ensure that he gets all he can out of life. I owe it to him! Watching his smile light up a room or the innocent sounds of his laughter refreshes my drive to go all out for him and to raise Autism Awareness for every family that has an autistic individual in their family. Keep fighting until society is aware of Autism and the individuals it affects.