The walk to the car with my husband after Liams autism diagnosis was filled with words we both finally spoke.
“At least now we know.” and “We will get him the best services possible”.
The car ride conversation was about how the label doesn’t change him. He is still our same little boy.
When we pulled in the driveway I started to feel a knot in my stomach. I opened my front door to walk into my home and I just stood in the kitchen. I turned to my husband and the tears just poured down my face.
He had autism.
It was the first time I had let myself cry. If I had cried before then I would be making it real and I hadn’t been ready for it to be real.
I told a few close friends and family about his diagnosis but I had decided I wasn’t going to tell anyone else. No one needed to know he had autism.
I thought, what would the label mean anyway.
I went on to get him all the services he needed and set him up for his special education pre-school.
As time went on I did start to use the word autism in conversation when speaking about Liam. Usually I felt the need to say it if he was with me and I knew he might have a hard time in the social setting and I would need to explain why.
I did unfortunately seclude myself for a while because it was just easier to stay home. To avoid a inevitable meltdown or the uncomfortable visit with friends or family.
I wasn’t concerned with them judging me in these moments. I was scared of them judging Liam. My perfect little boy. The thought of them judging any piece of him ripped my heart apart.
I just could not find my happy place. I was terribly depressed. I gave all the happiness I had to Liam and I had nothing left for me. If I did go out to enjoy time with friends I was just going through the motions. I was there but I wasn’t really.
One day it just clicked. Everything became clear to me. I was mourning the loss of the life that I thought I was going to have. I was living my life hiding from the diagnosis. Hiding from the word autism. If I didn’t say autism then it was just a speech delay, just a little socially awkwardness and just having a hard time understanding language. These things I felt were easier for people to understand. Maybe they wouldn’t put him in a different category as other kids if it was that.
That was a lie I told myself.
Liam is on the spectrum. Liam is autistic with all that comes with it. I needed to Mom up and face it head on.
I started to say it out loud in every moment I could. Liam has autism.
This was my moment. This was I how accepted it.
The label. What I had decided wasn’t important WAS. It is important for everyone to know. It is a label for everyone else in the world to understand everything that makes Liam, Liam. I was at peace. The weight had lifted and I wanted to tell the world. I was proud of my son and all he has accomplished and I wanted them to know.
This was a huge epiphany to me. I started to think about all the parents out there that are going though what I did. That deep depression before AND after a diagnosis. I wanted to show as many parents as possible how amazing life can be after you fully accept your new future. It’s a clean slate. It’s whatever you want to make it.
I decided to make a Instagram account to share all of Liam’s past and present. To help as many parents as I could through the 3 D’s.
Doubt, Denial, and Diagnosis.
I wanted to find my autism family. I decided to make a Facebook page. As I sent that invite button out to each and every person I knew, I felt another huge weight lifted. I was officially telling everyone he had autism.
From there I told the whole community I live in. We have a Facebook community page. I had bought blue light bulbs for our outside light fixtures. I posted that April is Autism Awareness month. That April 2nd we Light It Up Blue for Autism Awareness and that we were choosing to light it up for the month of April for Liam. That was my way of letting the community know.
Somehow this all made my bond with Liam stronger. I no longer needed to sweat it out in public. The cards were on the table. We could just be us. Which is what we have always been. No looks from strangers matter. No stressing about what anyone in my life thinks of anything leading up to this moment of acceptance.