I don't really want to be writing this, because it's not pretty. I'm somewhat ashamed of this moment, but it's my truth.
"Why can't you just be normal?" This is what I yelled at my sixteen month old beautiful baby boy. The look on his face is forever sketched in my memory, as it should be. I should never be allowed to forget how awfully broken I was then.
Noah had been seeking sensory input at an all time high. Spinning, head stands, making non stop noises--not babbling, big difference. And his lack of attention nor desire to do anything purposeful, had taken a toll on me.
Up until that point, I had never seen Noah cry as hard as he did. I still remember it as if it were yesterday--but that would never happen now. I am smarter, and so much stronger. But I can still picture it all. The exact spot in our old house where Noah curled up on the floor and buried his little face into the carpet. And me sliding down the wall onto the kitchen floor in defeat. Both of us shaking. Both of us crying our hearts out.
We had to get out of the house. It was warm so we went for a walk. I called my best friend and told her that this wasn't normal, that none of this was okay. And she calmly told me, "this isn't the first time you've said this." She was right. I had my suspicions Noah was autistic since he was a few months old. But there would always be so many reasons he wasn't. So I would have this constant battle in my head going back and forth, he is, he isn't. I couldn't do it anymore. I knew it was something, autism or what, but I knew this was real. This was going to be our lives.
I realized the more I tried to deny what was in front of me, the harder it would be. For all of us.
So we dove head first into early interventions. I began googling autism, and what it looked like at all ages. I actually started saying the word "autism" out loud. I began sharing about Noah-- "Yeah he spins, and shouts, and is challenging, and is silly, he is my whole heart."
I started to own autism. I educated myself and learned how hard Noah works everyday and just how brave he is. I want him to know how proud I am of him, nor do I want him to be "normal." Noah is amazing. Plain and simple. Autism and all. So the more I'm okay with the autism part, the more everyone else around me will be too. As a dear friend once said, "change your thinking, and it will change your life."
This wasn't easy for me to share. I felt like a monster--I still do. This memory haunts me to this day. I still ask Noah to forgive me. I share this because I remember that feeling. That sinking, gut wrenching, overwhelming feeling. And you want to deny it so badly. You want to do everything in your power to make it go away. But you can't. I know how that feels. So if someone reading this doesn't feel so alone, or doesn't feel like a monster.. Well then I've done the right thing in sharing, because you like me are neither of those things.