So I took a long hiatus from writing due to my time and creativity being drained elsewhere. I’ll briefly recap the last two years as quick as possible. My energy and efforts went into running and building a thriving dance studio and competition team, coaching poms, getting pregnant, and having a 3rd child. Meanwhile, my father is in remission from cancer, and now I have sold the studio and Jason has taken a job in Kansas City, we sold our house in 24 hours and are in the process of finding a new one within the next few weeks and packing. Finally, this year Cruz was transitioning between schools and therapists and programs and we went through the full blown evaluation process and finally got a medical diagnosis of Autism. Since this is autism awareness month and I am procrastinating packing boxes and full of emotion I thought it might be time to jump back in the saddle.
Those I have spoken with have asked me how I ‘feel’ after getting stamped with a label. Given the fact that our lives are chaotic right now and I am pumping postpartum hormones I am not experiencing a different type of feeling, just more intense feelings. Everyone also immediately asks me if I am surprised. It’s hard to explain. It’s kind of like seeing a storm roll in, watching the news and seeing the radar, hearing the wind and rain, knowing you are in a tornado watch, then a warning with sirens blaring but then the tornado actually touches down on your street. Was I surprised? There were warnings and signs but yes there was still a part of me that was surprised. So many of his therapists didn’t think he fit the criteria. Granted they said he is very A-Typical. He doesn’t fit a clear-cut mold. They said it took three masterminds with PhD’s to try to understand his learning patterns and how he organizes his thoughts. Which made me feel like a genius and explained why things had been so confusing with him for so long. Every other therapist or teacher always told us ‘he is really interesting’. I did feel validated for my frustrations over the last five years. I felt relieved to know he will be able to qualify for services and resources. I felt sad. I felt really glad we had done so much early intervention because this kid has grown and changed and learned so much the last couple of years. I felt thankful and blessed for people like Brooke Allen (our behavioral therapist and great friend), Deborah Crooke (his amazing former teacher), Donna Ramsey (amazing caretaker with tons of knowledge), Monty Clark, Holly Radar, the list could go on and on of those who poured so much into helping us. I also feel better equipped to fight this battle. Now that I have more knowledge and more resources, nothing can stop us from doing everything we can to help our son.
We were scouring through thousands of photos and videos on the computer the other night in hopes of finding one picture of the house we needed. I saw a montage of this beautiful complicated silly boy from birth to present. I saw video clips of him throwing fits and screaming, clips of him trying to communicate at age 3 when all he could do was still sign. There were videos of him doing bizarre sensory seeking things. Pictures of him in treacherous places, in underwear climbing trees, hanging from things, lining things up, and finding joy in some simple pleasures like laying naked on a leather chair or rolling in a bin of bird seed. The puzzle piece fits. The famous “blue puzzle” piece outlines much of his behavior but he will not be defined by any one thing. Autistic is one word in a list of many beautiful and strong words that describe my beautiful son. For my friends and fellow parents of kids with autism you know how important schedule, routine and consistency is. Pray for us as we uproot and plan to move to a new city, new house and start a new school with new therapists and are back in the process of navigating life and learning through the eyes of Cruz.