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Frustration and Joy, Despair and Hope, Worry and Laughter

Katie Wahlquist

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…” The opening line of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities perfectly captures our family’s journey with autism. When our Adam came bursting onto the scene eight years ago, we had no idea the extreme highs and lows that we would experience as we cared for this special child.

What does autism look like? It looks like fatigue from lack of sleep, but also tired smiles when we hear Adam play his kazoo at 2 a.m.

It looks like continuously trying to find anything that Adam will eat, but also being amused as you watch him eat a piece of licorice like an ear of corn.     

It looks like frustration at never, ever hearing your child speak a single word, but also intense joy when he finally figures out how let you know he wants the green crayon.

It looks like jealousy when you see other “normal” kids playing sports or with friends, but also joy when you actually see your child make eye contact with someone else.

It looks like despair when you wonder what his future will be, but also hope that new breakthroughs are coming.

It looks like endless worry that I’m not doing enough as a parent, but also absolute peace that this boy loves me completely. 

Caring for an autistic child is not for the faint of heart; it takes courage, stamina and most of all, patience. But being part of Adam’s life has truly been “the best of times.”

By Katie Wahlquist, mom of Megan, 11, and Adam, 8