I knew in my heart something was wrong with my son. I was just awaiting the doctor’s confirmation. I remember that day, four years ago, when the neurodevelopmental pediatrician told us our son was in the autism spectrum and that he would need three sessions of occupational therapy a week.
My husband and I were silent. But I wanted to scream and cry. My brain started thinking about his future, while my heart ached for how people would treat him differently, label him negatively, and even bully him and make fun of him.
My son has Pervasive Developmental Delay. At the age of 2, he was still nonverbal. He had tantrums and had poor eye contact. He only ate milk and Oreo cookies. He had problems staying still or sitting in a chair for more than a few seconds.
He will never be like the other kids.
My thoughts were filled with how I needed to do something to fix my son, to cure him, to make him normal. True, I could help him develop skills other kids possess, but he will never truly be like them.
Then, I realized, why should he be like the other kids? Instead of trying to fix my son, I learned to embrace him for who he is. I stopped thinking that everything will change, that everything will be normal. I started accepting that this is now our new normal. Everything is okay and nothing truly needs to change.
You see, the biggest enemy I had was denial. It was all too much to bear. I felt all alone. I was overwhelmed and overthinking everything.
But the truth was I was never truly alone. I had my family and friends. I had God. And I had my son. In his own little way, he was there for me. It might be hard to see at times, but there is a bond that we share: a bond made of love, of trust, and from that bond, I draw strength.
We must all embrace our children for what and who they are. Acceptance is the first step on this journey we take together.
Aleth Sanchez-Timbol is a stay-at-home mother of three wonderful kids. She runs a personal blog dedicated to moms with special needs children and encourages them to embrace, love, dream, create, and celebrate. She and her husband, Francis, believe that “when life gives you lemons, there’s no lemon so sour that you can’t make something resembling lemonade.”