I never know what will inspire a blog post. This was inspired by a Facebook Memory. 6 years ago I posted a video of me and Cade, sometime in the wee hours of the night, only showing the light from the living room window coming from a street light, and all you could hear was his little voice. My 4 year old autistic sweet boy singing “if you’re happy and you know it” but there were no words. Only the “sounds” of the words. Sure I could understand him. He was my son. When I played it for my co-worker she gave me a blank grin until I told her what the song was and then, yes! Of course she recognized the tune! And 6 years later he can sing every word to every Johnny Cash song, in pitch.
How far we have come. It’s reminders like these that fill my heart with pride and contentment. That maybe everything is coming together. That all of the work and effort and sleepless nights and worry and baby steps were all worth it. And every one saying “he will get there, don’t worry, everyone is different… they were right. Now he’s in fifth grade. Now he has friends and peers that understand him and want to help him and play with him and be WITH him.
I’ve grown too though, as a mom. As a person. I’ve had to. When handed the diagnosis, I had no idea what I’d be dealing with. Meltdowns and frustration in the beginning. A lot of behavior issues. Therapy and questions. So many questions. But I have learned so much and so many people have helped me. Guided me. Let me cry on their shoulders. LITERALLY.
The biggest things with my son I’ve learned: To talk to him. His output might be jumbled sometimes. He might not be able to always express himself appropriately but he has always seemed to be able to understand if I could get his undivided attention. And I know that not all kids are the same but all kids with autism are in there. There is some way to connect. And whether you know they are listening to you or not, talk to them. For Cade, I always talked to him like he was an adult. Like he was my best friend. And he always was. He was my side kick. My little buddy. Once I realized that “transitions” were difficult for him, I recognized that he simply needed to understand what was going to happen. He needed an explanation. Sometimes it had to be said several times. Sometimes in different ways. But that was key!
Something else I really grasped onto early and tried to remember daily is the emotional side of my kiddo and just how MY emotions affect him. When I’m sad or upset, he picks up on that so quickly. And being a single mom, those emotions come. It’s just part of life. So I had to start to focus on myself, to make myself better so that I could make HIM better. Because as I developed my own happiness, I saw his happiness bloom. Now I focus on positivity and it has transformed not only my life, but our home, Cade’s interaction with me and hopefully his happiness.
I would be lying if I told you I’ve never gone to bed crying, with worry that this day would never come, that I could never see him at THIS point. And I would be lying if I told you that I don’t still worry about his future and if his progress will continue or how his future will play out. All I can tell you is that I don’t give up and neither should you! Because our kiddos are special and every day is a new day and every day could hold a miracle! Never give up on what you are doing. Never give up on the strength of your child and the strength of your own.