Last week my husband and I went to an autism support group meeting in the town we moved to a few months ago. Fourteen of us sat around a table, introducing ourselves and telling our stories.
One of the moms couldn’t get through her story without crying. Her son had only been diagnosed two months ago. I teared up with her, remember those early weeks of not even being able to say the word “autism” without feeling overwhelmed.
“He lines up toys.”
“He never stops moving.”
“He can’t tell me what he wants. He can’t even point to things.”
“He runs away from me when we go places.”
The rest of us nod our heads in empathy again and again.
James was diagnosed five years ago. I read the books, consulted Dr. Google (and real doctors, some of whom were less help than Dr. Google), and started all the therapies that were recommended. I saw autism as a problem to solve, an enemy to defeat. Jenny McCarthy would call me for advice. We were going to be one of the miracle cases.
The mom who had just become a special-needs mom asked questions about what our kids could do. Can they talk? Can they read? Do they sleep at night? Do they eat a variety of foods? Are they out of diapers? She wanted us to assure her everything would be ok. That the worst case scenario she was creating in her head wasn’t her future. She would be a miracle case mom.
But I couldn’t honestly paint that picture for her. James’s words are mostly echolalia. He can’t read. He doesn’t always sleep through the night. He doesn’t eat meat (except for Chick fil A nuggets but who can blame him for that favorite?). He still wears diapers.
Her worst case scenario is my normal.