In fall 2011, I found out that my four-year old son was cognitively 1.8 years old. Life had just gotten real. Of all the words that were written on Angel’s school progress report, those were the words that hit me the hardest.
At this point in our journey, we were finally facing the fact that our son needed help. We were not living in “Denialville” anymore. We found a special-needs advocate who began helping us to get Angel the help that he desperately needed. The first step was to have him evaluated by a neuropsychologist.
The evaluation process was long but interesting. I remember being out of town when Angel’s dad took him to his last appointment. At the end of the appointment, he called me and I immediately asked how it went. He replied,
Oh, the doctor thinks Angel may be on the spectrum.
My heart dropped to the floor. My husband said those words as if he was telling me that Angel had a cold. I am not sure if he fully understood the ramifications of what he was saying. I do not remember anything that he said after that. I think I asked some questions. Then, I hung up and the tears began to flow. I cried my eyes out that day.
As a parent, Angel’s autism diagnosis broke my heart yet it explained so much. It explained his speech delay. It explained why he loves to line up his toys. It explained his constant seeking of sensory stimulation. It explained his hyperactivity. It also explained why potty training was a challenge.
When we got Angel’s autism diagnosis, I started wondering if it had been caused by something I did during my pregnancy. Then, I remembered that I was the model pregnant lady. I did not drink alcohol. I avoided second-hand smoke as much as humanly possible in New York City. I worked out, took my prenatal vitamins daily, and I ate healthy foods. I also avoided chemicals as much as I could. I was the pregnant lady who wouldn’t even wear nail polish to avoid chemicals and harmful fumes.
I now know that there is no definite cause for autism. It seems like every other day there is a new cause discussed in the news. I have heard it all from maternal obesity to vaccines to the environment. The reality is we still do not know for sure what causes autism.
I remember grieving because I was facing the fact that my only son’s life path will not be the same as typical children his age. However, with this reality of autism in our lives, came a new appreciation for everything Angel does.
If he puts on his socks, we tell him good job.
If he uses his spoon to eat instead of grabbing food with his hands, we encourage him.
When he reaches a new milestone, we praise him.
I remember a few months before Angel turned four, I went to pick him up from school to take him to speech therapy. As soon as he spotted me, he ran toward me and yelled “Mommy!” He had never called me Mommy before. I was thrilled and proud. The tears flowed and my heart swelled big enough to love him even more.
No more will I listen to anyone telling me to wait and see. I refuse to wait and see when Angel can be getting the help that he desperately needs now. As we navigate this world of autism, I pray for the strength for us to continue to help Angel develop into the young man that God has designed him to be. I know that I am blessed with a great team and together we will keep moving forward for our Angel.
BMWK – How did you feel when you found out that your child is on the autism spectrum?
Check back every other Tuesday for additional articles from Kpana Kpoto as she shares her experiences and what she learns as she raises her son that has been diagnosed with Autism.