This is a post by Elizabeth Birenbaum, wife to Seth and Mama to Mason, Elizabeth is a full time working mom (and blogger) living in sunny Southern California. She's a lover of sunshine, chocolate, Fixer Upper on HGTV, Instagram, and peach green tea lemonade. You can find her blogging over at Chasin' Mason about motherhood and daily life with a toddler as well as some DIY projects, recipes, and whatever else strikes her fancy.
A couple months ago, on Thursday, April 9, 2015, you were diagnosed with autism. Even though we had had some suspicions for a while, to hear the doctor say "Mason has autism" and to see the ADOS report say "diagnosis : autism" struck me hard. We thought you aced the test with flying colors and we were going to be wrong. We just knew that the doctor was going to tell us that you were fine and it was all a big mistake. I knew I had overreacted. But I wasn't wrong.
I was overwhelmed with all of the information that I was given. I didn't know where to go or where to start. Our world had just been rattled and I didn't know where to go from there. I thank my lucky stars that we have such a wonderful person in our life who could help us, who had been through the same thing. I talked to her on the phone for over an hour that night, picking her brain, asking her questions, hearing her story. She helped me in ways I can't even thank her enough for. I didn't cry. I was optimistic. We can do this.
We told our family all we knew and could comprehend. I don't want this to be a secret. This is a part of you. You are a part of us. We will get through this together.
People keep asking me and your dad if we are ok, and to be honest, I think we are. I know we are. You are no different today than you were on April 8. Nothing has changed except we were given more tools to help you thrive and grow.
Then the other day I stumbled across this post and she said everything I was thinking. Reading that post made me cry. I couldn't believe that someone had put into words exactly what I was feeling and thinking.
Your life today, as a newly diagnosed child with autism, will be very different than your life in a few years. Early intervention is key and I am so happy that we were able to get this diagnosis now, while you're two, rather than many years down the road. I see how well you respond to your speech classes and how much of a sponge your little brain is.
I know this early diagnosis will only benefit you as you learn and grow in the coming years. And right now, there are still so many unknowns. We are still waiting to go to your follow up ENT appointment in June. Who knows, maybe he will still see fluid, you will get tubes, and your speech will take off. Maybe the fact that your hearing is muffled due to the fluid and minor hearing loss causes you to be so focused on one toy that you don't hear the sounds of other toys making noise in the background. Maybe once you can hear better, you will stop putting everything (non-food related) in your mouth and you can fully experience toys and writing utensils with all of your senses. I know this diagnosis is just one part of the puzzle. And there are so many that are still missing. In due time, we will see and learn more and as we learn more, the puzzle might change.
This diagnosis does not define you.
You are still the same sweet, loving, caring, amazing little boy that we've always known. You are friendly, you are outgoing, you are fearless. You are a joy to be around. And your dad and I... we will make sure we give you every tool you need to grow, learn, and thrive. I can't wait to enroll you in kindergarten and cry my eyes out that my little boy is growing up too fast. I can't wait to see you make your first science fair project. I can't wait to see you play sports. I can't wait to see you graduate high school and to help you move into a dorm at college and then really cry my eyes out that my little boy really is ALL grown up. And furthermore, I can't wait to meet the girl you know you are going to marry and then walk you down the aisle to wait for her. One day (long, LONG from now), you will make me a Grandma and make me the happiest I've ever been to hold a baby since July 18, 2012, the day you were born.
I never thought of myself as a parent of a child with special needs. But here we are, here I am. A parent of a child with autism. And while that might be true and we might have some hurdles we need to jump over, you, your dad, and I are no different than we were on April 8. And I intend to treat you exactly the same way I did on that day from this day forward. I am constantly in awe and inspired by you. You make me want to be a better mama. I love you more with every day that passes.
Love always and forever,