Having an autistic child is not the end of the world--far from it. It is my hope that through this blog, at least a handful of people will get to understand that. My child is amazing, she brings us tremendous joy. We have good days & bad days, but we CHOOSE to focus on the good. Our belief is that by loving our daughter, giving her the most comfortable environment we can, and by most of all accepting her differences, she will continue to blossom--in her OWN way.

1/14/08

My Little Fighter

When I first viewed the video I posted in the previous entry, it brought back so many memories of my daughter's infancy. I thought of how she never made eye-contact, something that actually troubled me when I would nurse her. She startled at every little thing, yet appeared deaf at other times. Dancing, making silly faces or noises, even clapping in front of her, and she would still have a blank stare. She held her body in odd postures. I had to remind myself not to take any of it personally. It sounds silly to say that, but no matter how level-minded one is, when your own baby doesn't respond to you, it can be heartbreaking. Most days, my daughter would prefer to sit in a swing, car seat, anywhere but in someone's arms. But, we continued to hold her and try out new ways that she felt more ease. We realized what she liked--swaddling. We swaddled her until 9-10 months old. I also discovered she preferred being held in a sling, instead of someone's arms. She also liked motion, I'd rock her, hold her while gently bouncing on an exercise ball, etc.

By around 8 months of age, I donated my "What To Expect The First Year" book as by then I could relate to very little of it. We watched our child, month after month, struggling to meet any of the usual milestones. So often, she seemed to be in her own world. All of those experiences, have made every gain that much more amazing. I remember how difficult it was for our daughter to roll over. She has what is now thought to be considered a typical "autism" roll. Every movement took so much out of her, so much effort. I remember her trying to crawl. For months on end, she would squirm a little while on her stomach and then just lay there. And then, one day, the squirming transformed into an army crawl meets fish flopping style movement. And with each day, she would move further and further. It took so much out of her, but day after day, she'd try again and again. She's been a fighter like this in every area of her life.

It honestly breaks my heart a little when I think about it. No child, no baby should have to work so hard and struggle so much for even the littlest of gains. I will never take any of my child's milestones for granted. When I think of how far she has come, and how from the moment she was brought into this world, she's had to fight, I know that forcing her into a certain mold (to be like everyone else), is simply not right. It would not be fair to put those expectations on her. That, over time, has come to me. I have accepted this completely. I no longer look to the charts as to what she should be doing or make comparisons. Sure, when I see NT children her age, the differences are evident, and my heart may pang for a second or so. That is natural, and I've learned to just feel that emotion and move on. That's simply the way it is.

Others will not be so fair or understanding toward my child. I do not know what she will be like at 15 or 25 or any age down the road. No one can say for sure what her abilities will be, what challenges or issues she will face, how independent she will be, etc. We will help her every step of the way, and feel strongly that if we advocate for her, she will be able to make a wonderful life for herself. But, I do realize there will be opposition. Other people will not be so accepting of her differences. We will work every day to hopefully change society's distorted view of autistics.

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