This guest blog post is by Manar Kobeissi
Everything I wished for in life I was able to achieve. I married the man of my dreams, I bought the house that I desired, and even gave birth to beautiful twins, something I have always dreamt for. With that there was always something in the back of my head that made me believe that one day I was going to go through something difficult because my life seemed too good to be true. After 6 months passed by with my twins, Haydar and Miral, I started to see signs of changing behavior in Haydar. I started comparing his behaviors to Miral’s and regardless of wanting to believe it or not, I knew deep down something was wrong. At first my family and I used to think that he was just a quiet baby because his reactions were very limited, such that if I were to leave and come back he wouldn’t cry as much or get excited, like his sister did. It made me feel like even though he was in my arms I was still missing him because I felt that he wasn’t in the same world as me. I felt that he was always zoning out and never truly focusing on me. Months passed by and signs continued to increase. There was a part of me that was in denial. After all, he loved going out and he smiled when I would take pictures, so I forced myself to believe that there was nothing wrong.
But at 15 months, I was sure there was something wrong. Haydar’s eye contact was decreasing and his was not as responsive. I continued to do my own research and realized these were the signs to autism. Days passed and I continued to ask for Haydar to be diagnosed. But even after the doctor told me he was fine, I knew without a doubt there was something wrong. With that, I was sent to meet with a neurologist where Haydar stayed with 3 different doctors and after 3 hours they came to speak to me. I continued to tell myself that even if they told me Haydar was fine, I would disagree completely and insist that there is something wrong. Even though, deep down I was sure Haydar had autism, I could not believe how shocked I was to hear it from his doctor. “No it can’t be” were the words that instantly came out of my mouth, even though I thought I was mentally ready to hear such news. I cried for three days straight and felt that my life shut down. I stopped eating, drinking or thinking of anything. Then I realized it was time to accept it and start doing something to help my son.
I did my research and found out about ABA. I started putting my child in therapy at the age of 17 months. I was told that Haydar was the youngest child to start therapy; children usually start at 3 years old. It is difficult to find out that there is something wrong with your son, especially when it something that you barely have any control of. I was not mad or ashamed. His heart is so pure and I am so proud of him and so blessed to have such a unique child in my life. Autism allows one to experience a much happier life for as long as the parents continue to show love and care for their child. Our duty as parents is to appreciate such a blessing and live life to the fullest, loving our child and making sure we show them each and everyday how proud we are to have them in our life. For that reason, year after year, I continue to plan what I will do to show my appreciation for my son during autism awareness week and beyond. I hope to encourage other parents to shed light on such a matter and to allow other parents to know that they are not alone.