For 20 years, my family has been on a journey that is different than most families. My husband and I were young and in love, and the natural consequence of young love is children. So at the age of 25, I gave birth to a precious baby boy. That boy was very precocious and he amazed everyone with his giftedness. No joke, he was reading before he was out of diapers, but he also had social and communication delays that concerned us. When he was three years old, we contacted our school system and had him evaluated. He was amazing and gifted, they told us, but they also told us that he had autism.
Recently I was asked to help a college student with a project for her class. She is studying Early Childhood Education at ECU and she needed to interview a family with a child who had a disability. Fifteen years ago my son was diagnosed with autism. We are that family.
Most of the initial questions were routine. How did you know that your son had autism? What services did he receive in school? How old was he when he was diagnosed? And then she asked one that really made me think. “What advice would you give other parents who have children with disabilities?” I sat in silence for a few minutes and searched my heart and mind for the right answer. My answer was simple, only four words:
It’s okay to grieve.