It was the morning of C's evaluation...
I sat with Addie and watched as the second butterfly hatched from it's chrysalis. We had several caterpillars living on our kitchen counter for the past few weeks...and they were finally turning into butterflies. It was an exciting morning. In the back of my mind I thought..."Is this a sign Lord?...What is today going to bring?". But I was busy enjoying the moment with Addie...busy getting ready for the day....C was busy with his trains. It was a typical morning.
You would think the second time around you would be more prepared...more knowledgeable...more understanding of the diagnosis. But I am here to say...I was not. It's just as hard, just as heartbreaking, and just as much a process of grieving as the first time you hear those words..."Your child has autism".
Over the past few months we have been increasingly concerned with our son C's spinning, sensory issues, language development, social skills, odd behaviors, and the list goes on... So we decided it would be smart to have him tested.
Driving to the office...it hit me....I put on my sunglasses so no one could see me cry. I kept praying..."Lord I can't do this again....I can't hear those words again....I just don't have strength...I don't have the time to see more therapists...I can't do this....he already has so many other health problems....how are we going to make it...he's so happy....he's so different from Addie...there's no way he has autism too". My mind was spinning...and my stomach was churning. Finally we got a parking space. He likes to run..so I buckled him tight in the stroller. We walked about a block and headed in the building. Of course, he loved the elevator...tilting his head back and waving his arms in the air. "EEeeeeeee" he was screaming the whole way. He loves to be in motion.
We finally make it up to the waiting room for the early intervention program. Immediately C finds the knobs on the pretend stove and starts spinning them...over and over. My heart sank as I watched him. Then the psychologist walked in...he quickly started taking notes and observing him. I tried to get C's attention to make him stop the odd behavior..."C..C...come here C". He didn't hear me...he was in his own little world spinning the knobs. I was thinking "I know this looks bad...but he's not really like this". Then he noticed the cabinet on the stove. He opened and closed it...banging it loudly... over and over....bang...bang...bang. In my head I was thinking..."Why is he acting like this? He doesn't do this normally". Then a cold chill came over me. I realized more than ever....I was in denial AGAIN. He IS like this....this is my little C and this IS how he is. He DOES act like this normally.
Then the process starts...several hours of questions, tests, screenings, and evaluations. Meanwhile...C is running around the room...slamming his stroller into the walls...jumping off chairs...spinning...flipping. It was an exhausting process. Suddenly he became fascinated with a plastic bottle they gave him...screwing and unscrewing the lid over and over and over. The psychologist tried to get his attention to no avail. He finally decided to flip C in his arms over and over.....then he was in heaven...flipping over and over and over. Screaming and laughing...shaking his head around....he was being my happy little C. I was watching everyone taking notes...and questioning...I knew what they were thinking. I knew what they were going to say. I was just hoping it wasn't so.
They sent us back to the waiting room to discuss his test results. Sitting there alone with my little boy...C spun the knobs over and over....then he wanted to jump off the chairs over and over and over. Constantly seeking...constantly in motion...constantly smiling.
Then everyone walked in the room...by this point... C was crawling through a pretend school bus window and jumping off the hood over and over and over. They gave me the criteria for being accepted into their early intervention program. Then they told me that C would definitely qualify. In robotic fashion they told me that he had the language skills of a 7 month old...the blah blah skills of a 10 month old...blah blah blah. I couldn't hear anything past 7 months old. HE IS 19 MONTHS OLD. He's more than a year behind. It was like a slap in the face with reality. It was overwhelming...I couldn't hear anything else they said after that. My mind was whirling...."we have to help him....what have we done wrong...I'm a terrible mommy...why didn't I know before...what is wrong with C".
They went through all the concerns that they had for him. Finally they said IT... "we think has autism...but we want to see if he improves with therapy and gets a little older... before we give him an official diagnosis". There it is...they said it. AUTISM. I was crushed to hear those words... I knew in my heart that it was so...but it was still so crushing.
I held it together until we left the office. I broke down in tears when we got to the car...I definitely had a weak moment with God. I looked back at C's smiling face...he was dancing to the music on the radio...beautifully oblivious to what had just happened. "Why my sweet little boy too?....Why God why?...How on earth am I going to be able to handle two kids with autism?". Once again the Lord quietly whispered to me ..."you can't handle it...you can't handle it alone...I will be with you...I will give you the strength". Just when I think I have everything figured out...just when I think things are settling down....WHAM....I'm stopped in my tracks. Once again I learn I CAN NOT do this alone...the only way I can do this...is with Christ by my side.
When we finally got home...I sat there watching C....analyzing his behavior...my mind whirling from all the therapist's had said. He seems so different to me...he has autism...everything had changed. Then I realized...he's not any different today than he was yesterday. The diagnosis doesn't change him...he's still the same...he's still my little C....my precious little boy. This doesn't change anything. It just means therapy...early intervention...education. It's the beginning of a new journey...a new adventure....a new butterfly journey.
My little C will have his own butterfly journey...and everyone's life that he touches will have their own journey with him as well. He is amazing and perfect....and EXACTLY the way God intended him to be. He is precious in HIS sight. I am so thankful to have these children that God has entrusted me with. I can't imagine our lives any different. It's crazy most days...but it's life...and it's the life God has given me....and I'm thankful for that.
We are so blessed to have two beautiful butterflies. Two children who see the world in a completely different way. Two children who show love in ways that not many understand. Two children who just need others to believe in them and see their strengths.
God doesn't make mistakes...and He made Addie and C...perfect in every way. I'm so thankful for these two amazing little people in my life...and all that they teach me every day.