You know that dream where you’re running away from the giant, all while trying desperately not to trip on that ribbon-streamy thing that’s attached to your crown (because of course, I’m a princess in this dream….) It goes without saying (no pun intended), that you can’t scream in the dream. You finally reach the castle and are hiding in a small room with one of those slitty windows, and the giant’s eye appears in the window. You’re still trying to scream of course, and then a big hand comes around the corner to grab you…. What?! You’ve never had this dream? Puh-lease…. I don’t think I want to know what this dream says about me. But anyways, I wake up before the hand reaches me. I’m in my bed, with my husband beside me (snoring or buzzing – he disputes this…) and I’m safe.
When you receive a diagnosis of autism, the “dream” that you had for your child changes. No longer the rosy outcomes of Little League, graduation, college, marriage and grandchildren – the “normal” stuff that parents think about when they’re holding that beautiful little thing in their arms. Everything is uncertain.
The first thing that I thought about when we received Henry’s diagnosis was this…. I felt so sorry for this little kid who had been trying so hard to have his needs met. It’s like he was in a foreign country where he didn’t know the language – can you imagine how frustrating, hard and tiring it would be every day to try to communicate with the world around you?
The next thing was sorrow… I sat in my car and sobbed for at least 30 minutes. Thinking of it now makes me cry…. I was so scared – what did the future hold for my son? Would he ever be able to make it through school? Live on his own? Find a partner who would appreciate and love him for all that he is? Would he always face discrimination and prejudice from those who just didn’t “get” him?
But here’s the thing about dreams…. That first one has been replaced with this – I’m dreaming of Henry graduating from high school (he will – with honours); I’m dreaming of him going to college and living away from home (he will be in September); I hope that he will find a career that fulfills him; I hope that he will live independently and happily and finally, I’m sure he’ll find someone who will love him for all that he is… because once you’ve met Henry, you love him! And as far as him facing discrimination, I can only hope that the more the world is educated about the unique gifts that autism has to offer, he will be embraced and appreciated.
There is a quote that goes: “We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned so as to have to live the life that is waiting for us…” Always be willing to let the new dream take hold.