Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Photo On My Living Room Wall

There is a photo of my kids on my living room wall that was taken before Tate was diagnosed with autism. Sometimes when I look at that photo I wish I could step back in time and be with those kids again, not knowing what I know now. They are the same kids I have today, of course. I am still their mother. They are still my kids. They still love me. But it was a different life we lived. It was life before autism. Tate had autism the day the photo was taken. I am convinced he had autism the day he was born. So, what is the difference? The difference is that I was oblivious. I was ignorant of all the hard work that would have to be done, unaware that my hopes and dreams for Tate’s future, my future, were about to be snatched from me. They say, “Ignorance is bliss.” When I look at that photo I can believe it. I remember fondly the days that I did not know what autism was and what lay ahead. My ignorance was bliss. 

The reality is that I had to learn about autism to be able to help Tate. In fact, if I really could turn back the calendar, taking the knowledge that I have now with me, the wise choice would be to go back to the day he was born, long before that photo was ever taken. I would want to know that same day that he had autism. The earlier the intervention and education begins, the better, and I could have begun that very day to educate myself and begin the early intervention Tate needed. So I suppose, although ignorance is sometimes bliss, it is not usually for the best. I would even argue that education is power, knowledge leads to opportunities, and awareness prevents many problems. And that is why I started my blog. I wanted to raise awareness and educate others about autism. If I can end another mother’s “bliss” soon enough then the early intervention can begin and their child will get help sooner, not later. I hate to do it in some ways. I know the pain of the realization that your child will struggle in this world. He may not mature and go away to college. He may not be able to live on his own or marry. His interests may never develop beyond video games or toy trains. But I also know the relief the diagnosis brings. Now the developmental delay has a name and now there are therapies you can do that will help. There are experts you can call and books you can read. Now you roll up your sleeves and fight and work as hard as you can to help your child meet those milestones he has been missing.

Having said all that, my heart still argues with my head on occasion and I sometimes long for the “bliss” that was my life in that photo on my living room wall. I want to be ignorant, just for a little while again.

Want to read about the day I realized Tate had autism? Here it is: The Memory That Does Not Fade

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