This post is about Jackson. My amazing, happy, sweet, caring and beautiful little boy.
I haven’t written on here in months. Months. Not because I haven’t thought about it – I have – in fact, I’ve almost craved the ability to write what I am about to say – but then I would get nervous. Anxious. Timid. Shy. And I’ve come so far from being any of those adjectives…. So I’m being brave.
Tonight, I got a push, so I have decided to share what’s been going on in our lives since last October when I posted. If you read that post, it means that you read that we had been seeing a neurologist in our area and that he ruled out autism for our buddy, Jackson. He wanted us to do some follow-up stuff, including a neuropsych eval, which we had completed at the end of October.
During that eval, we were told that Jackson has autism.
This was very difficult for me. Not for the normal reasons. At times, a parent may hear that their child has autism and be thrilled. They have an answer. They know what treatment plans are available. They know expectancies. They join support groups, get therapies, and know that there isn’t a cure for autism and continue living their lives.
I’m not like most parents, I suppose. This news was devastating to me. As a special educator, I know what it’s like to receive paperwork with the words “Autistic” written on it. Not that I cringe, but there is the fear of the unknown. How severe is it? Is the child verbal? What kind of behavior issues, if any, does the child have? What social abilities does this child need? And then, the worst – when I tell the teacher that’s going to have the student and they sigh.
I don’t want that for my child.
My child doesn’t deserve that.
Let’s say Jackson DOES have autism. (Which, by the way, I don’t think he does. I am a professional in the field, so I am entitled to my own opinion. He has social cues. He makes eye contact. He communicates. He is actually talking up a storm. A year ago, he was still using sign language and he had 20-25 single word utterances. Today, he told me that “Mommy, Daddy, Gracie and Jackson at the beach. We see the truck and the airplane and the water.” (Which is true, because we saw a truck, airplane and water at the beach when we went in December for a weekend) (and he was looking at a picture of us on the beach, so it wasn’t like it was a random thought.))
Back to the point.
Let’s say Jackson has autism. The last thing I am interested in is for ANYONE to pass judgements or make assumptions about my son. And I know that may happen. I know that someone may assume that he has behavior issues or meltdowns that are screaming fits, that he may be violent. He is none of those things. Sure, he has a tantrum once in a while. Sure, he has a hard time sharing. HE’S THREE. What three year old DOESN’T have a hard time sharing? I don’t want that for him. I want people to see him as this amazing and sweet little boy who has made me so incredibly happy.
I’ve gotten better.
In the past 3 months since the diagnosis, I have become much more accepting of it. The progress he has made is simply unmatched and unreal. He continues to have his sensory issues, but has gotten so much better at self-regulating. His anxiety has gotten better. His receptive language has made tremendous gains. He is more tolerant to touch new foods, even if he won’t eat them. He asks for hugs and kisses.
The other positive is the neuropsychologist wants to re-evaluated him in a year to determine if that diagnosis is still appropriate for Jackson. Until then, we are working our ass off for him.
He also started a preschool program in my town. In NJ, Early Intervention only goes until they are 3 and then they go to a 3 hour program at their neighborhood school. He takes the bus. He LOVES it. They want to potty train him. They send me Emails with messages like “his nickname here is Mr. Smiles”. He’s progressing.
And I am so proud.
So. Sure. Maybe he has autism, maybe he doesn’t. Maybe we just need to give him a minute for him to catch up. Maybe no one will make assumptions about him. But, trust me – I can assure you all of this – Jackson will be held to the same standard as I would give to a neurotypical child, such as my Grace. He will be expected to do what anyone would expect a 3, 4, 5, 12, 16 year old to do. And he will be loved, nurtured, comforted, thought of, cared for, and protected just the same.
Okay, fine. Maybe a little more.
It’s good to be back.
Promise the next post will include my Gracie, that sweet little sassy thang. ❤