Years before I became a mother, autism was simply a strange mysterious mental disorder. No reason to worry or become involved.
Then I had Noah. Autism had a face for the first time. It was a robber. It robbed my peace, my son’s future, and my parental pride.
As the years went on, autism changed from being a robber into being a giver. Autism gave me the gift of appreciation of my son and the ability to see what’s most important. Every little word or minor interaction is a big thing for our family. Every time Noah looks at me and smiles, or says “Mommy” or “Daddy,” is a gift. I remember the first time we had a real conversation: I said, “Noah, we are going to church.” He replied, “I want to go to beach.” We all celebrate with Noah when he has a breakthrough. His sisters have become his teachers; it’s amazing to see how they encourage and praise him.
In our family, autism affects almost all that we do. Can we take Noah here? Will people understand? Will he have a meltdown? Simple living is not an option. We have therapies and IEP meetings to attend. At times I feel cheated when I look at “normal families” (if there is such a thing). But I love this life. I love him—all of him.
By Amanda Gehman, mom of Catherine, 7, Noah, 6, and Kiera, 4