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Why I Walk: It takes a village to support my son with autism

This guest post is by Lauren Sullivan who is a single mother who has young boy named Declan who’s on the autism spectrum. Lauren is walking for the Autism Speaks Staten Island Walk for Team Decky. You can make a donation to her walk page here. Why do you walk with Autism Speaks? Email us at iwalkfor@gmail.com and you could be featured on our website! See if there is a walk coming to our area at autismspeakswalk.org.

In October of 2014, I brought Declan for a check up and had to fill out a form to see which milestones Declan was hitting. He wasn't talking, he wasn't appropriately playing, he would flap his arms when he got excited, he wouldn't respond to his name even if I screamed it right behind him. My doctor told me I should get him evaluated for speech. Once I spoke to a group focused on early intervention on the phone to schedule for them to come I told them about all of my concerns. It was like a whirlwind and for the next few weeks it was evaluator after evaluator coming to my house and telling me all the things that was wrong with "my perfect child".

In December of 2014, Declan who was only 20 months was diagnosed with mild ASD. I was overwhelmed, frightened, angry, sad and so many other feelings that I cannot even describe. I would constantly ask myself how did this happen? Why did this happen? What did I do wrong? What could I have done different? Why us?

We have had our ups and downs and have had many numerous opinions from others about their feelings about me getting my son diagnosed. Most thought what a great thing I did so that my son can have every chance in the world. Then there were some who were negative about it and couldn't believe I could do that to my son, he is so young, he looks perfectly fine and he will grow out of it and now he has a stigma that will follow him for the rest of his life.

From January 2015 until August 2016 and through early intervention my son received 23 1/2 hours of services a week. My home has a rotating door when one teacher left another one was coming in. As of September 2016, Declan has been attending a CPSE school in NYC and is becoming more verbal, is beginning to appropriately play with toys and beginning to play with others. Thankfully I was blessed with these teachers and they are our heroes. I am so grateful for each and every person who has been here for Declan and I through our journey and our new friends who God blessed us with.  

The small things that people take for granted are really big things in our world. My son, my perfect angel, has definitely come a long way and I am very proud of him and I'm blessed for where we are today. This will be the first year Team Decky will be walking for Autism Speaks in Staten Island, New York.

Why do you walk with Autism Speaks? Email us at iwalkfor@gmail.com and you could be featured on our website! See if there is a walk coming to our area at autismspeakswalk.org.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.