As the year comes to an end with Christmas Eve in two days and we creep into 2016, we also enter year two of life as an autism family. And you know something? Year Two is going to look quite different from Year One.
In the months immediately following Cody’s diagnosis, we were mourning. Mourning the loss of what we thought was a typically developing child. Then we quickly went through all the grieving stages (in no particular order) and still do at times. Then you hit the panic button wondering what therapy do we choose and what is best for Cody? Of all the 200 methods out their specifically for Autism, where do you start and who do you trust to help guide you through this journey?
But then suddenly, we changed—our eyes, like Cody’s, opened. Looking at the same landscape and seeing something different.
We pressed forward with as much early intervention therapy Cody could handle. Books stacked in piles on the nightstand along with countless articles found on my Kindle to research and sponge everything we could learn about Autism. Our lives rearranged.
Then about half way through the year, we began to get settled into a rhythm of therapies. Books finished, different schools of thought studied, conversations about fundraisers started, prayers said, progress snail-slow (but subtly occurring).
And recently for the first time the word “on” is contingent and he makes a vocalization when he wants something “on”. Not always sounding like “on” but he knows he must vocalize.
It’s those small steps and brings us such joy and hope.
He is trying to communicate.
Realizing that I’ve talked to God more in this past year than I have, probably, in the past decade. The day I realize it’s going to be okay. It’s not easy, and nothing—not even speech—is guaranteed. But it’s going to be okay.
For Cody, I want the parts of autism that cause him confusion and difficulty to go away; I don’t ever want his quirkiness, his unique intelligence, or his cute Cody-isms to go away. I never want him to lose what makes him Cody Rivers.
Year two is looking so much brighter than Year one. And it isn’t because I’ve resigned myself to the idea of nothing changing. I believe changes will continue to come and will never lose hope. I also have learned new things about myself that Cody has taught me.
Learn how he learns, think of what will make him happy and observe his actions versus what would make a neurotypical child happy.
For example, Cameron loved to put out the cookies and milk for Santa; he loved Oddle, his Elf on the Shelf and his funny appearances throughout the year. He also loved to put out reindeer food for Santa’s deer every Christmas eve.
Cody has found joy by going to look at the Christmas lights or playing Christmas carols every night before bedtime. He has fallen in love and is mesmerized with snow globes and trains so we made those things happen for him to find the joy too!Neil Gaiman:
I hope that this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living and pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing the world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.