As many of you know, April is Autism Awareness month. This is a little known fact that I was unaware of until a couple of years ago. It didn’t impact me, it wasn’t even on my radar. It is now. It impacts me every moment of every day. There is not a moment that goes by that I don’t think about the impact Autism has had on me and my family’s life. We have been affected and changed by it in so many ways. Some for the worse, but so much for the better.
The last couple of years have definitely been an uphill battle. You quickly realize that you become the voice for your child. No one else is going to speak up on behalf of Nathan. Good and bad, we will fight for him to have every opportunity that is given to any other child. We have to be his advocate. Nathan can’t stand up for himself and a lot of times can’t articulate what he thinks or feels. Words get jumbled, events get mixed up and so we have to make sure that we are always on top of situations to make sure that he isn’t on the receiving end of something that he shouldn’t be.
I cannot remember the last time that my husband and I had a date night with just the two of us. We do not have the luxury of calling a baby sitter at the last-minute so that we can go spend some much-needed time together. We go everywhere as a family and even then that can be challenging. If we do something with just the two of us, it takes weeks to coordinate with my parents who are the only ones who have ever watched Nathan. It does happen, but it is rare. He is a high energy kid who needs constant interaction. They adore him and are so good with him. We have been blessed to have a family that has taken Nathan’s diagnosis and done their own research. They have never judged or treated Nathan any differently. They do not fear him, they LOVE him. There is nothing greater than watching him play with his cousins who just know him as Nathan and nothing more. So to Josh, Tessa, Tyler and Jace, Aunt Stacey thanks your for the love you have always shown to Nathan. You are all patient and loving beyond words. To our family who has stood in support of this journey with us, we feel your love. You have cried with us during the hard times and rejoiced with us in the triumphs. We could not be more blessed to have you with us on this journey.
To Nathan- you are NOT broken, you are perfect! Do not ever let anyone tell you anything different. You, my dear can do anything you set your mind to. You are just plain amazing. I am beyond proud of everything you do. You bring me joy and hope. You light up my life in a way that I never knew was possible and I would not ever change anything about you, for I am the luckiest Mom on the planet!
I am glad that there is a day that brings awareness to the fact that 1 in 50 children have Autism. It is time that we start researching this epidemic. It is time that Doctors start diagnosing properly for early intervention. It is time for more funding to be spent on educating these wonderful children so they do not fall through the cracks. So as glad as I am that there is a day to celebrate these amazing individuals, it is not just A day to me, it is my life. And I wouldn’t change a thing.