There are some truths about that boy of mine.
He was born in 2010, and is 5 years old.
He spent 3 days in the hospital because he was jaundice.
He was a fussy baby, cried a LOT, only slept in the car, and wanted to be held all the time.
He did not hit his milestones like everyone else.
He laughs a LOT (not always appropriately!)
He smiles all the time.
He has lots of words now, but doesn't use them all appropriately.
He can say his ABC's and count to 20 (just not when you ask him to)
He is the light of my life.
My little man has made big gains in his life so don't get me wrong with what I am about to say.
When you get the diagnosis of autism, some people tell you that it is okay to grieve, that it is normal to grieve the dreams you had that are gone now. Some people tell you not to grieve, because you don't know what your future holds. They are both a little right. It is okay to grieve, because you did lose the life you thought you would have AND even if you make it to a great place someday it is going to take a massive amount of work and sacrifice to get there. You also don't want to let go of all your dreams because then life seems hopeless and ITS NOT!!! The thing about grieving because of autism is that it doesn't happen just one time. When you first get the diagnosis you grieve your big goals and dreams, but you don't know (especially if it is your first child) the little things that you will get to in life that might cause some sadness. I feel like I have handled C's autism pretty well. Sure it took me a little while to get help after I realized, but once we got help we jumped in with both feet and got him everything we possible could. But I recently hit one of those milestones that we won't get to do, one that never occurred to me would hurt, but it did!
I am a kindergarten teacher. In March we started registering and screening the kiddos that will be in K starting in August. I input all these kiddos into a spreadsheet for our team. As I am doing that this year I start seeing all these birthdays that are close to C's. All my friends that were pregnant when I was are posting on Facebook about Pre-K graduation and registering for K. My little man will not go to kindergarten this year, like he should. I am not sure if he will ever go to a traditional kindergarten class. Last night we went to the end of year celebration for his class. A group of those children are moving on either to traditional kindergarten or to a self contained classroom setting, BUT they get to move on. I watched as the children, all of them no matter age or placement for next year, but also all with special needs in some form, walk to the teacher for their certificate with no help from mommy, they posed for pictures or hid behind their teacher just like my kindergartners do. Not my little fella. He had to sit in my lap and be held, tight, just to keep him from running out of the room. When they called his name I had to walk him up to his teacher, where he proceeded to meltdown and cry, while trying to lay on the ground. It was heartbreaking.
So I am grieving the loss of my kindergartener. I am grieving the fact that I won't have my little boy in a room down the hall from me with one of my two best friends in the world teaching him. I am grieving the fact that I won't get to share the kindergarten experience with him like my other K teachers have done with their children. YES, I do get to celebrate all his achievements and NO I don't take those lightly or for granted. YES, I am so glad it is just autism and not something far worse and NO I don't wish I could wave a wand and change him. BUT I AM GRIEVING AND THAT IS OKAY!!!!
It won't last long.
Please if you know me or another parent that is going through any time in their life with a child with a special need that might cause them to grieve, let them. Don't tell them "it's okay" or point out all the things their child can do. Believe me they know and all those things and have celebrated them in crazy kinds of ways!!! Do tell them you love them. Do support them.
So today I am sitting and grieving the loss of my kindergartner, while I hold and love my amazing, wonderful, bright 5 year old boy. And tomorrow is another day!