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Our son, C, was diagnosed with autism last year at the age of 3. Our daughter, Baby Jo, was diagnosed with autism today at the age of 2. We have two wonderful, beautiful children with autism. They are bright, kind-hearted, funny, warm children. C loves cars, trucks and planes. Baby Jo loves cars, Minnie Mouse and Minions. C is a master of puzzles. Baby Jo loves to dance. Their personalities are as unique and varied as that of neurotypical children. My children are autistic and awesome.
It was overwhelming entering the autism community after C’s diagnosis. It felt like we had to pick sides in heated debates that I didn’t know existed. ABA therapy or no ABA therapy? Group or in-home? Is autism a different neurology or an epidemic? Is this something to be supported or cured? Over the past year, I have learned more about autism and autism acceptance.
Autism isn’t something to fear or pity. It is a different neurology. I am thankful for the autistic adults who create YouTube channels or blogs so that we may learn more about our autistic children and their future. I believe that in the right environment, ABA therapy can open many doors for children. Realizing that I, too, am on the spectrum has put my past and present into focus. My own experiences make more sense to me now. All of these things together are helping me to parent my children.
C has been in center-based ABA therapy since June 1st and he is thriving. His therapists are phenomenal individuals who care about the child and the family unit as a whole. Baby Jo will be starting ABA therapy at that center next month. She will begin her journey with ABA more than a year earlier than C did. I’m thankful that she has this opportunity to learn and grow in such a wonderful environment.
I do have an array of feelings, but they are different this second time around. I am happy that Baby Jo will be able to get the support we feel she needs. I am relieved that all of these behaviors have a name to them. As a parent, I’ve always had some level of uncertainty if I was failing in some way or if the challenges we faced were truly as difficult as they seemed to be. I am thankful that we had the knowledge and resources to recognize things early this time.
Let me be clear – in our family unit, there is no room for pity or sadness over an autism diagnosis. It is simply a different neurology that requires the proper supports in place for our children to thrive in the way that we know they are capable. These words are not meant to create controversy or debate. Every person has their own journey. This is our journey.