The coaster car 'tick-tick-ticked' while inching it's way to the apex and don't we always dread that death defying, spine twisting, drop just over the very top that makes us let out a blood-curdling scream? Likewise, I was also sure that autism would wrench my organs right out of my body, if not my emotions right out of my mind; but after taking the plunge, I found out that the ride wasn't as horrifying as I imagined.
In fact, it's been quite the opposite. My journey with autism has been more like an exhilirating, scenic drive, with blooms of new experiences dotting curvy roads. I've seen storms brew and then smiled as I watched them disappear in the rearview mirror. Sure, there's been bumpy roads and lots of times I needed a map, but mostly my excursion has been filled with inspirational beauty to behold with all of my senses. It has given me focus, direction, purpose, understanding, compassion and most importanly, the greatest relationship with my daughter.
She can also speak and write. Today, she actively seeks out friends and is very social. She loves art, plays pretend, can navigate computers and the internet. She wants to be a dentist when she grows up. Her father and I intend to do whatever we can to help her achieve that goal; therefore, we homeschool. The lecture for institutions (public school) is for a different blog.
My investment? Time. Yep, all of it. No over-priced therapists, no intrusive government social programs, no fancy diets, not 3 million dollars (the suggested retail price of raising an autistic child), and not one minute wasted looking for a cure. We don't need a cure, there's nothing wrong with her; she's autistic, not sick. My investment has been my time. She needed time to develop at her own pace, and she needed for that to be okay. She needed someone to work with her day in and day out, someone to validate her behaviors, her sensory issues, and understand them; not stamp them out because they were an inconvenience and not 'normal'. She needed someone to love her, and respect her for the person she was and is, behaviors and all. She needed someone to point out all that was right about her, not what was wrong. That person is Mommy. If not Mommy, then who?
Annie Eskeldson is the author of the Ashi's Gift Series, children's books about autism that also nurture the parent. The newest release, Ashi's Birthday and Other Dreaded Days will be out around Thankgiving 2011. You can find out more at Ashi's Gift Website http://www.authorannie.com/