Learning How To Swim

For a while after Callie’s autism diagnosis, my husband didn’t say much. I wanted to talk about it but what was there to discuss when there were so many unanswered questions? It was like we had been given a new job with no instructions. No manual. No training. No preparations of any kind. No assistance from anyone. We barely had a grip on raising two boys. My oldest had asthma and a borderline phobia of bugs & the dark. Now autism had jumped in the ring to take that final blow to the heart. With all autism’s many facets and uncertainties, I thought why wouldn’t there be a hush in the room? My husband analyzes everything. How could he analyze something he didn’t understand? I was at a total lost. Any resemblance of intelligence took a backseat, and hope hopped out once fear took over the driver’s seat. Our life had changed in an instant and we sat on a cliff wondering why, while feeling the physical, emotional & financial stress slowly pushing us to the edge. An unexpected turn of events wasn’t supposed to hurt this bad and I needed a glimpse of light to shine over a dusk diagnosis to shake the anguish our souls felt. This was our son. Life was not created to stop at autism or any other challenges faced. And it was imperative that my heart embrace the fact that no matter how intimidating & overwhelming the sea of unknown may be, it was time to learn how to swim.

I placed my boys in a local preschool in the neighborhood. There were a chain of them, so I figured it had to be a good school. I also found a speech therapist. Callie’s words remained silent, and based on my oldest son’s progress, I knew a few words or at least a babble should have happened by now, especially by age 3. Ms. Stacey was Callie’s therapist and she really took a liking to him. She knew how to use cards, colors, shapes, toys and of course, treats to keep his attention. Her office reminded you of those interrogation offices on cop TV shows. I could see and hear Ms. Stacey & Callie but they could not see me. This was particularly great because I wanted to be involved without being a distraction. I was intrigued, watching them work. . . .watching Callie’s brain begin to absorb information and process it. I observed them both intently, trying to learn as much as I could myself. I so desperately wanted to soak in all I could in hopes of continuing the progress at home. Their relationship was needless to say interesting. Callie had a love/hate bond with Ms. Stacey. When he got what he wanted, there was love. When he didn’t or when he was annoyed, bored & just not in the mood to work, the hate part surfaced. But through it all, the beautiful rang through because he was learning. . .something I hadn’t seen & probably wouldn’t have recognized. The absence of words became babbles. Babbles became letters. Letters became words. I thought his mind had become closed to any understanding. Even though the developmental pediatrician said Callie was high-functioning, that meant nothing if we lacked communication.

I share this particular part of the journey because it’s where the glimpse of light shined through. . . .even brighter than anticipated that first year. I learned a mass about autism and abundantly more about Callie. But what I learned most is how to swim.

 

Thanks for listening,

Portia

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