This is a difficult post to write.
Now, based on the title, you may think I am going to be writing on a certain topic.
You'd be mistaken.
September 11, 2012 was the day our family changed forever.
Not because of 2001.
Not because it's a dear friend's birthday (though it is--happy b-day, girl!).
September 11, 2012 was the day we received Blue Elephant's diagnosis.
High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder.
There were tears shed on the car ride home from Vandy that day.
There was a sense of relief that my mother's intuition was not, in fact, wrong.
There was discussion between Daddy Elephant and I of what to do next.
How do we approach this new-found knowledge?
How do we treat the symptoms?
How do we inform the people in our lives?
How do we treat BE?
What wasn't ever, ever, ever in question was how do we love BE.
We love him more now than that day a year ago.
But that day, so many, many things changed.
In the course of a 2 hour doctor evaluation.
Our family unit was re-defined.
We are a "special needs" family.
And there is absolutely no stigma attached to that!
We are a determined homeschool family.
We already WERE a homeschool family, but this just gave us another solid reason to determine to continue with home educating.
I learned that doctors can sometimes be very, very wrong.
Not because I didn't agree with their diagnosis; I concurred.
But when they told us that the "best" thing for BE was to put him back into the beginning of Kindergarten and let him "model" his peers in a public school setting, I knew they were wrong.
He'd already been in 1st grade for a month at that point...and Kindergarten had been more 1st-2nd grade subject matter!
Spectrum kiddos don't "magically" begin to model peers, simply because they are surrounded by them more hours of the day.
Part of BE's therapy is actually to TEACH him to model; he just doesn't do it naturally!
He is his "own breed"....and still is, to this day.
I love having an original child.
And I love that with home education, he can learn at his own pace, unhindered by age-to-grade-level comparisons. :)
Over the course of the year, many things changed for us....
We are a GFCFSF family....boy, did this one take some adjusting to! :)
We've adapted the thing we eat, where we can/can't eat out at, how we cook, how we shop, etc etc.
That sweet BE is more than worth it, though!!
We speak in letters. ST, OT, ASD, NT, GFCFSF, SPD,..... I could go on an on.
It's the lingo; I've just learned to speak it!
I learned that unaccepting people would always be unaccepting.
We moved our kids to a better environment; they are accepted, understood, and thriving.
I learned that homeschool families are better friends to special needs kids.
Now, this may not be a hard and fast rule; but, seeing as how there were VERY few kids who would associate with my BE before we were homeschooling, logic follows....
(We DO have some amazing friends who have all NT kids, who were our friends before and after diagnosis; a small handful. They are wonderful!)
I learned that the Special Needs community is like any other community; large, with more members than I can count.
In general, they are supportive.
There are pockets of "one-uppers", though.
There are pockets of "judgers".
And there are those whose way is the ONLY "right" way to treat Autism.
I'm a selective kind of gal.
I don't keep the negative voices around in life.
Things tend to be happier that way.....for all of us.
But, I've found some awesome people in the Special Needs community.
We've learned that "family" doesn't always equate acceptance.
That is a sad fact of life, and a closed matter.
Just pray that someday stigma and ignorance truly does come to an end where Autism is concerned.
We've learned that every day, while a gift, sometimes can come wrapped in barbed wire. And it takes heart padding and determination to wade through it.
We've learned that while we are thankful for our son,
it's OKAY to admit that this gig is really, really HARD.
(Isn't that true of parenting in general??)
I've learned the cleansing power of tears.
I've learned that a diagnosis is just as much a "loss" in life as any other "loss"....and it needs to be given time and space and allowance to grieve.
But I've seen the truth; that this diagnosis is NOT the "end"....
It's not without hope.
It's not without laughter.
It's not without triumph.
We've been changed, certainly.
Things will never be the same for our herd.
But day by day, we rise to meet the challenges....
We drive to therapy each week.
We practice our social skills and conversation rules.
We teach proper subject matter for the dinner table
(which is NOT the digestive process of monkeys, in case you wondered....).
Here's to a year of great changes, life upheaval, and redefining.
We LOVE our herd.
Happy Anniversary, Autism.
We're pressing on.