“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”
― Debra Ginsberg
In honor of Autism Awareness Month I asked one of my dear friends to share her story as a young mother discovering her firstborn son was Autistic and their progression in this journey.
In 2005 my life changed drastically in one afternoon. I can still remember how nervous I was sitting across from the Pediatrician at my son Mason’s 2 years old well check visit. Things had not been going well, Mason had been acting differently. He had started lining up cars, banging his head, throwing long drawn out tantrums, and avoiding making eye contact with me, or connecting with me. I was only 22 years old at the time, but I knew something was wrong. I knew in my heart this was serious, and I was losing him.
My ears buzzed, and my heart stopped when the Doctor said your son is Autistic. There is no cure for Autism, but there are therapies to help treat it. After crying for a good 2 days straight. I decided to get myself together. I went to the library and read every book on autism I could find. These books helped me to understand Mason better. We started using pictures, sign language, and a schedule to help him communicate, and stay structured. We worked hard all day. I made him engage with me even though at times he hated it. Every time he looked me in the eyes I rewarded him, everytime he tried to speak I praised him. At the time ABA therapy(Applied Behavior Analysis) was not widely available, or covered by insurance. This was a huge problem because this was the only FDA approved treatment for autism and very expensive. After a long night of google searching I found out that Tricare Insurence covered ABA. But the catch is to have Tricare Insurence you must serve in the military.
My Husband was laid off shortly after we received Masons autism diagnosis and we decided take a leap of faith, and join the Navy. Mason made huge progress after we were stationed in San Diego, with 40+ hours of ABA therapy a week he began speaking and was fully potty trained! I was so proud, and grateful that all the hard work and sacrifice was paying off.
I also found my voice advocating for Mason. The school districts were not properly educated or prepared to teach my son and I became extremely familiar with California State Laws, and my child’s right to an education in the least restrictive environment possible. The battles were not easy but I finally got the district to provide Mason a one on one Aid after much fighting and pushing for this service for him. This was a changing point for Mason and he is now almost 13 years old and He is fully Mainstreamed in a typical classroom, with his aid. He enjoys the technology based learning curriculum, And is well on his way to earning his high school diploma.
Something I was told wouldn’t happen.
Mason has been such a blessing in my life. He has given me an incredible amount of strength, and faith. Because of Mason I had enough drive to start my own custom cake business. I am able to work, and still pick him up from school everyday, take him to Doctor’s appointments, and be there for therapy sessions. He has helped me find my inner warrior. I no longer give up, or feel sorry for myself. He has shown me that no matter what life gives you, you can make the most of it with hard work, and perseverance. Without Mason I would not be the person I am today. Mason I love you to the moon and back, and I’m so happy to be your Mother.
Cristin’s Recommended Resources ~
If you are struggling Cristin would happily help anyone she can~ Email her with questions @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Cristin is the owner of Cakes by Cristin a bakery here in San Diego specializing in custom tiered and 3D cakes. She also provides custom cookies, pops, and cupcakes, for all of life’s special events! She is a busy single mother of 2 kids and when she’s not busy making cakes, she is spending time with her kids, catching up with friends, and trying to enjoy some of Americas finest City!