Sunday, September 27, 2015

Give me the tools

When I was in Junior High my Dad built a large wood soccer kick board in our back yard.  I grew up in rural New Jersey and we had a good amount of yard space to practice any sport we were playing.  This wood back board became a tool to help me develop the skills I needed in the various sports I played.  I vividly remember throwing and catching lacrosse balls using the back board.  I remember playing one-on-one matches with my dad using the back-board as my goal.  It was a resource which I used to help me improve.  It also was a way to bond my Dad and I.  We spent hours outside together.  We would talk about sports, school, my dad would give me advice, and I would tell him goals I had for the future.  The simple tool of a back board was a special connection with my dad. 
My back yard in New Jersey.

When Max was born I was so nervous to be a mom.  I loved him with all my heart and soul, but I didn't know what I was doing.  Parenting was something new, and it was something I didn't go to school for.  I read books on parenting, on sleeping, on nursing and having a happy well adjusted baby.  But when Max started not hitting basic milestones, was socially behind his peers, and I was unable to connect with him I didn't feel like a good parent.  I failed.  I was failing my child.  I wasn't doing something right.  Max would spend hours screaming all day, would physically hurt himself, and was unable to communicate.  As much as I wanted to understand, I didn't.  I was frustrated, depressed, and worried that I was not a good mom. 

Then a miracle happened.  We talked to our pediatrician and explain the things we have been observing with Max.  He comforted us and told us there is help.  He also told us that we were not bad parents, but instead we are parents of a special child who is going to need our help to navigate through life.  At age 2.5 Max was diagnosed with Autism.  This was a year and a half ago. And since then I have been gathering tools that allow me to enter his world.  The diagnosis WAS NOT the end of the world, it was the beginning of a brand new one.  It was a world that I am so lucky to be a part of.  Autism has helped me reach both my children.  It has helped me be a better mother, wife and teacher.  

Max has been the best guide in the world.  He is a fantastic example of unconditional love, kindness, stubbornness, and devotion to his love for life.  He struggles, we all do.  But at least now he has parents who have tools to help him be successful!  Having two children with Autism gives us even more tools because what we have learned works with Max might not work with Dexter.  We have to be constantly learning. 

Autism isn't a label for my family, it is a tool, a guide, and a world that connects me to my boys. 


  1. You guys are the best. The teacher in me wants to scream this with every diagnosis. It is not the end. It does non have to define your child. It is a tool.