I remember when I found out I was pregnant for the first time (the day before my 17th birthday) I remember knowing, just KNOWING, that I was going to have a boy. I was anxious and scared and excited. I remember all the hopes and dreams I had for my little man, first day of school, HS graduation, college, marriage. I remember my father being in the operating room with me, crying when Triston was born, saying "he's beautiful" through a tear soaked mask. I remember the first time I got to hold that fat-pink-pig nosed-blue eyed beauty. I remember the way he smelled. The way he looked at me. I was so in love. For the first time in my life I KNEW what it meant to be in love. And yes, I remember how upset I was when he had cholic and was up screaming all night. And how I would question time and time again "Can I do this on my own?"
Triston always seemed like a difficult toddler. He tantrumed like nobody's business. Banged his head on walls. Screeching over and over for no reason. He did not speak (except he knew his alphabet, numbers to twenty, colors, and shapes all by 10 months old, and those were the only words he spoke until he was 3.5 years old) He was a very picky eater. He wouldnt touch fruit (except bananas) or veggies or meat. No matter how I tried to hide them he would find them and pick them out. I remember asking his pediatrician what was "wrong" with my son. In my gut I just knew something was wrong. Her response. "Dont worry, it's a phase, he'll grow out of it." She was wrong.
And I remember the day my world came crashing down.
"High functioning severely autistic savaant" The panel of doctors told me. After 18 hours over the course of 3 days in testing, they had come to their conclusion. "He will probably never learn to speak, or be potty trained. He'll probably never make any real friends, or have a normal connection to people." "Rainman! Oh my God NO!" That's all I could think. And the tears flowed. The panel got Triston set up to go to a special school for autistic 3 year olds. I remember being upset for WEEKS. My beautiful baby boy. Did I do this to him? Could I have done something differently? Will he ever have friends? Will he ever go to a normal school? Will he ever get married? College? Devastation cannot begin to describe the pain I felt. So I surrounded myself with library books. Spent hour after hour on the internet, researching, trying to find answers. Praying that there was still some hope. There HAD to be, right? What I found amazed and horrified me.
1 out of 150. You've got to be kidding me. How did I not know more about this (other than rainman) if there are 1 out of 150 children being Diagnosed all the time in this country with Autism. 1 out of 94. My jaw dropped. 1 out of 94 boys are diagnosed with Autism. How do doctors, teachers, parents, miss this stuff?? How did I miss it? There are more children born with Autism every year than AIDS, Juvenille Diabetes, and Cancer COMBINED!! Yet scientists STILL cannot positively determine the CAUSE!! Some people blame it on Mercury contaminating childhood vaccines. Some people believe it is because of preservatives and chemically altered sweetners and foods. Some believe it's genetic. Some believe it is a little bit of everything. And some just dont care WHAT caused it, just give our kids the services they need. The services are not cheap. There's speech, occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, physical therapy, etc.etc. the list goes on and on and on and on and on.... It could cost in excess of 3 million dollars in just therapies ALONE to care for an Autistic person. And to find services in some areas is a JOKE!! Not to mention you still have to QUALIFY! Just because you have a Diagnosis of Autism DOES NOT GUARENTEE that you will receive the services your child NEEDS. IT IS WRONG! AND SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE!
My dreams have recently been restored. Triston will be graduating Kindergarten next week. He is at the top of his class. He is the only Autistic child in his classroom of 25. Next year they want to put him in a combined class of 1st and 2nd graders. Their reason for this was the work was too easy for him this year. Next year 1st grade work will still be too easy for him. So with the mixed class he can still be with his friends, but he can do 2nd grade work to keep him challenged. This from the toddler they said would never talk, or have friends. THEY were wrong!
I am so proud of the progress that he has made. Between all of his therapies and how much he has to go, there are times that he works harder than most adults during a work week. He is one of the hardest working kids I know. And it's PAYING OFF!!! He and I have been through a lot with this Autism thing. It's been no cakewalk. But we are winning this battle.
I have children with Autism. And I could not be more proud!