Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It Begins

William is our two-year-old son. And two weeks ago tomorrow, he was diagnosed with autism.

Our daughter, Nora, ever since she was born, has lived and breathed by the ability to communicate. She's unbelievable. She'll do anything to be able to tell her story. When she was two minutes old, even, the nurses in the delivery room called her "vigorous." Yeah, I'm not gonna lie. I'm pretty proud of us. We produced an incredible little girl.

William was always different. Now, don't get me wrong--he's just as amazing, and we're just as proud of him. But he was always so quiet. At first, we thought it was a gift. Look how independent he is, we'd say. Look how he can keep himself busy with his bedroom doorknob...he could do that for hours!

The time came, however, that it was no longer possible to ignore the fact that he wasn't speaking. He did plenty of babbling, for sure, but he was never trying to communicate a message. Most kids, if they want cereal, would point to the cereal box and bounce up and down, or whine or something. That's communicating. William, though...he just wandered in circles and smacked his ears and whimpered.

Since that defining moment two weeks ago, I've been bombarded, everywhere I go, by normality. And having this diagnosis gives me pause every time I see life proceed as normal for everyone else. I push my cart in the grocery store by magazine racks. It's October, and they're already full of magazines advertising new holiday cookie recipes and creative Christmas tree decor. William is off all gluten, casein, soy, and corn products. Am I even going to try Christmas cookies? Between phone calls and research on therapies and insurance, am I even going to have time to decorate? And if I do, is he going to notice...anything? Is he ever going to be able to learn Christmas songs? You know what--scratch all that. Is he ever going to learn to tell me and his dad and his sister, out loud, that he loves us?

At this point, most of what I have is questions that no one can answer. It's okay. In the meantime, my son is the most beautiful and gentle spirit I've ever met in my life. He deserves to have a voice.

And we're going to find it, together.