Honestly, I thought that Monday the 6th of November was going to be a relatively normal day. I got up at the usual time and took my time getting ready sipping on my coffee before getting up my son, Dean. I got him changed and dressed for the day. I had pulled an outfit out the night before and now, I don’t even remember what he was wearing. At around 7, we left the house to drop of the car for repairs (My poor Taurus got smashed up during the storm. I only had that baby for a year and a half.) and pick up the rental car: a 2017 Toyota Camry.
Sitting in the cold breeze with Dean tucked into my coat, I waited for my dad to figure out to install the car seat in the rental so we could get going. I didn’t realize what this day would bring and if I would have, I don’t know what I could have done in that moment to make it better. I was poorly prepared.
After fiddling with the radio knobs, we ended up at the hospital and checked Dean in. As luck would have it, Dean got his flu shot first before his evaluation and the evaluation appointment was late by 45 minutes. After stuffing Dean full of animal crackers, Gerber beanies, and Cheetos along with a couple of baby bottles of water, he fell asleep peacefully on my chest. I sat in the most uncomfortable position where my feet and butt fell asleep, so I could watch him sleep while waiting for his appointment.
45 minutes later, I carried him into the evaluation room and prodded him awake with a bottle of milk that he barely touched, too excited after seeing all of the toys to drink. I held the bottle in my hands warming it up for him as he played with the Nurse Practitioner who would ultimately diagnose him with something that I wouldn’t have thought possible for my precious boy. He played hide and seek, peekaboo, and took the baby out of the bathtub (trying to judge his pretend play skills). He kicked a ball around and shoved EVERYTHING in his mouth just to taste it or chew on it a little.
The sparkle of happiness never left his eyes. My boy has always been a happy bubbly thing. I like to think that he takes after me in that way. After playing for an hour, the nurse said that she would have the report ready in a few weeks and proceeded to her computer. What she said next really shocked me. She said Dean has autism, which I knew. I knew he must be on the high functioning side of the spectrum. That really wasn’t news to me. Then, she started talking about all the programs that would help me and SSI. I was like, “Wait, what about SSI?” She started talking about how his autism is disabling and how it was interfering in his daily living.
I was shook. I asked her where did she think he was on the spectrum and she said that Dean is disabling autistic, severely autistic, and more on the low functioning side. I didn’t know what to say. I teared up a little. It came as an absolute shock knowing that my little boy was locked inside of his head and couldn’t communicate with me. It wasn’t for lack of trying or that I wasn’t good enough at teaching him. It’s just who he is.
The most shocking thing to me is: I haven’t really cried yet. Teared up: yes. But a good cry? Not yet. It isn’t real. It can’t be. It can’t be my boy. This isn’t happening. And the worse part? Knowing that me having an epidural and pain medication during labor could have caused his autism. Oh, and they want to do genetic testing on him to see if his DNA is mutated. He has a 20% chance of having a genetic disorder. No, I can’t do that to him. He’s almost 2. Maybe when he’s older.
And there’s so much rushing, rushing through my head. I can’t even hear myself think. Fell myself feel. I can’t feel. I have to be strong. If I feel, I might break down. If I feel, I might be no more. I can’t feel it. Not all at once. It’ll tear me apart. So, I put on a smile, pretend my life is okay, and move on.
Time doesn’t stop. It just keeps rushing forward. I can’t stop. It’ll just go on without me. My little boy is everything to me. All I can do is be the best mom that I can be. I cut up his fruit and help him brush his teeth. One day, I’ll be okay with this. But today…… I just keep my head up and sniffle back the tears.