Last week I took my son to a local organization for a screening of his behavioral issues. We were to tell him it was a fun special school where he would go play games. He was excited to go and he did really well– at least in my opinion. He hopped on one leg and balanced, did vision and hearing tests, identified objects, drew a circle and scribbled other things, answered questions, etc. I watched my sweet boy having so much fun and a single tear fell down my cheek. Then another and another. I felt silly… but I loved watching him be happy. I also felt so sad because I knew they were just observing him to see if he had developmental delays.
Long story shot, they think he shows signs of being on the autism spectrum. He has to go for another long observation. I heard the words come out of the PhD, whatever his official title is and couldn’t breathe. I felt such anger. I was mad at him for labeling my son. I was mad at him for thinking anything was different about him. I was mad at him for saying that social skills could be challenging for him. I was just mad. My son was and is perfect. As soon as he said the words I felt the same way I’d felt nearly 11 years before when my friend called to tell me that one of my best friends had passed unexpectedly. I threw the phone in anger. I couldn’t bear to hear another word. The words seared my face. Then the tears took over. I thought about that because I was feeling the exact same way — but no one had died.
Thinking about it…I realized that something did die. The plans I had for my son. The ones I made when I delivered him. These words… autism spectrum… suddenly meant that my son couldn’t have everything I wanted for him …or be who I imagined he would be. I started to grieve. I was so sad. I had a panic attack in front of the observers and excused myself to the bathroom. I felt so much pain.
I’ve thought about this every second since that day and in my gut, I still don’t feel like he has autism. I don’t think I’m in denial. I can see there are certainly things that stand out as interesting. He can talk to adults but isn’t great at talking to other children. He hand flaps. He’s smart. My husband thinks he has selective mutism. I have no idea if he does or doesn’t. I know that social anxiety and generalized anxiety are VERY prominent in my family. My father never talked to other children when he was a child. When he did start talking he stuttered. So the biological component is there.
No matter what happens, I love him so much and feel so blessed to have him exactly as he is. He is healthy… he is happy. He loves school. He loves us. He loves his sister. He loves to sing and make up stories. He loves playing outside and loves his extended family. He is so incredibly precious. I feel almost guilty for having the emotional reaction that I had. I am not perfect. I react to things like anyone else and then I have to step back and think about them. After this week I know this…
I know my kid. He is the epitome of love. He is hilarious. He is precious. Every single day that I’ve been his mom has been a day better than all of the days before it. He is perfect whether he is on the spectrum or not.