I think one of the best pieces of encouragement I could give to a parent whose child is newly diagnosed with autism is that things change. The way things are RIGHT NOW are not the way things will be six months from now, one year from now, or five years from now. It is hard to remember, at times when we feel so overwhelmed with what is happening right now, that this is not how it will always be. The foods they won’t even look at now, might be more palatable to them in a year or two. The diapers that they (still) wear, may be a thing of the past in time. The haircuts that make them scream now, may be comfortably tolerated in a year. We just never know what will change, and it does a disservice to our children to think there is anything they can’t do. Doug and I went into this world of autism with the mantra that Monkey can do anything in his own time. As parents, we are so focused on milestones and developmental timelines that it can be especially discouraging when we are unable to check off the milestones at an age appropriate time. But fear not, because the only thing that limits our children is us. When we say our kids can’t or won’t ever do something, why should they even try?
Time changes everything. We have seen so much development in Monkey over the past six months. His speech has really come along, and his understanding of certain concepts has improved greatly. Last year I felt a lot of discouragement, because where his peers were excitedly talking about Halloween and birthdays and Christmas, Monkey was still clueless, still struggling with the changes in routine that come with holidays and special events. This year, though, he dressed up and went trick-or-treating (last year he had a meltdown before his costume was even on). He only made it to four houses, but it was amazing! He went up, and happily took candy from our neighbors. He didn’t say anything, and tried to walk into their houses, but progress is progress. This year he understands birthdays, especially the cake! He’s very excited for his birthday in two days. This year he understands who Santa is (to a degree, he doesn’t understand that Santa gives presents or lives in the North Pole, but he understands that Santa and Christmas go hand-in-hand), he loves the lights and Christmas trees and decorating cookies. He still greatly struggles with the changes in routine, but again, progress is progress.
The past few years he has been very adverse to footed pajamas. It had been sad for me, as I love how cute he looks when he wears them, and it had felt like a waste of money. This year, though, he’s voluntarily wearing footed sleepers and, in fact, won’t wear any other kind of pajamas.
Nothing stays the same for any person, there is always development and growth when we work at it and when we believe it is possible. It’s not going to be the same for everyone, but the bottom line is still there. Don’t give up hope. Things change.