After receiving the results of the testing on Jax, we enrolled him into a special needs preschool. His teachers were awesome. They tried really hard to fulfill his needs and give him all of the help they could. Most importantly, they loved him. I could see the love these beautiful women had for our son and it made it that much easier to let him go each day. It was rough having my barely three year old away from me every day, but it was the best thing for him. He needed it.
During this time, I started researching and researching. I came across some information about Autism. At the time, Jax did not have many signs of Autism, but he did have a few. He had the severe speech delays, he wasn't very social, and he had a hard time expressing himself. I began wondering if he could be on the Autism Spectrum.
About six months into preschool, I was speaking to Jax's teacher on the phone. She was explaining to me that while progress was very slow, he was making progress. I asked her if she has noticed anything that would make her believe Jax was Autistic. She said, "Yes, I have. I was hoping you would bring this up. I have noticed things like him having a hard time making eye contact, his speech delays, etc." We were both noticing some things that pointed to Autism. I then made an appointment with a psychologist to have him evaluated.
Right before Jax's 4th birthday, he was evaluated for Autism. We filled out what seemed like a million papers and did lots of testing over the course of a week or two. The psychologist was having a hard time making the diagnosis because Jax wasn't showing a lot of the symptoms kids with Autism usually have. It is now very obvious he is Autistic as he has acquired much more symptoms than he had when he was younger. After much testing, the psychologist said to me, "I do believe he is on the Autism Spectrum." Even though I knew in my heart this would be the outcome, my heart sank.
I remember instantly feeling such heartbreak and sadness for my son. What would his future be like? Would he have friends? Would he be able to ever live on his own? Would he be bullied?
Would he be happy?
While I thought I was doing a pretty good job of hiding my feelings, the psychologist could see the hurt in my eyes. She said, "Hey, this is not a death sentence. All you need to do is love your son and he will be okay. If you are worried and sad all of the time, he will pick up on that and he won't progress." She was right. I needed to buck up and just deal with it. It wasn't that easy though. I wished it was.
I had a really tough time with the news in the beginning. I cried. I cried a lot. I cried for my son. My heart ached for him, knowing the trials and pain he would have to face in his life. That about killed me. I cried for myself. I felt so alone, so sad, so angry. It just wasn't fair. I cried for my husband. I wondered how he felt when he saw other dads playing sports with their sons and having conversations with them. It must hurt sometimes.
It was a really rough time in our house for quite a while.
Once I got over the initial shock and sadness, I began to act. I started researching, asking questions, making friends with people who were going through the same thing. All of that helped, and still does. I try to reach out and help others who are dealing with Autism or the possibility of it in their families. Acting instead of wallowing in self pity makes it so much easier to deal with. I still have my rough days, trust me...but I am now okay with the fact that my son has Autism. It does not define my son, but it is part of who he is. I have often thought, if I had the chance to completely take away my son's Autism, would I? It's a tough question/thought. Yes, I would love to be able to take away the hardships and frustrations my son deals with because of Autism. I would take that away in a heartbeat, if I could.
But, if taking the Autism away meant taking away his adorable personality, his quirkiness, his humor, his hilarious acting abilities, his uniqueness...then no. I would never want to take that away from him. He then wouldn't be Jax. We love this boy and adore him for who he is. He's perfect. If I had to pick one of my favorite things about him...it would be the fact that he doesn't care what other people think. He dances around and acts things out and carries on as he pleases...and it doesn't matter to him who is watching. I love it. That is something I can only hope and pray my kids learn and Jax has it mastered. He does what makes him happy and that's all that matters to me.
We are so thankful that we have the chance to raise such a unique, beautiful soul.
We are so blessed.