posted written in 2013

It was a little over a year now that my sweet son Cayden was diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) 
The diagnosis was disarming,The pressure for early intervention was overwhelming. Need funding. Need a team. Need therapy. NOW!

The new year of January 2012 was one of the hardest years I have ever gone through. We had just celebrated the birth of our second son Jake and within a few weeks of him being born, our world was turned upside down. 

I knew nothing about autism when this lady (from child development) who had just finished playing with my son for an hour turns to me and says "I believe Cayden has autism" right at that second I thought wow this lady has some nerve coming into my home and saying my son has something called autism. She has no clue what she's talking about. Her next comment was "I'm not sure how you feel about this, I'm usually good at readying people's faces but I can't read yours" 
Well good thing, I thought because you won't like what I'm thinking about you right now!
After that, she was probably only here for another 10 minutes and she left, leaving my husband and I sitting in our living room silent while Cayden lined up his cars in front of us. 
We both started googling a little about it on our cell phones(still not moving) and still not saying much. 
I went upstairs into my bedroom and closed the door. I right away started to call my parents. As soon as my dad answered I broke into hysterical tears and told him what this lady had said. I don't remember the conversation after that but I remember laying on the bed crying and my husband walks in with our newborn Jakey and puts him in my arms and walks out. OMG I was furious with him. He couldn't give me a few minutes to be alone! How heartless is he? I held Jake tight and a Couple minutes later went downstairs to give him shit! I found him in his office and before I could open my mouth, I noticed he had his head down and he was sobbing. The tough not emotional husband of mine was as devastated and hurting as much as I was. 

After that I don't really remember the next few days or weeks. I do remember though that I didn't stop crying for a very long time, I grieved for the life I dreamed of for my son and worried that was not possible now. 

It all came about when I started taking Cayden to strong start. He wasn't too sociable and was behind in his speech so I thought strong start was a good idea for him to be around other kids. Cayden loved the new toys, arts and crafts, gym time etc... But he still didn't want to play with others and acted like they weren't even in the room. When it came to circle time he wouldn't sit with the other kids and it always turned into a bad meltdown (That i call "shit show")

I would leave there carrying Cayden out kicking and screaming and myself crying also all the way home. I didn't understand why this was happening. Was I not strict enough, was I a bad parent, was I not teaching him properly?
Then one day at strong start, they had some intake consultants from the Infant Development Program and I asked them about Cayden's speech and if he is behind or not, also how do I deal with these tantrums. 
She told me that she will get someone in touch with me to come evaluate Cayden and let me know about his "speech"

At the time I was about 7 months pregnant and Waited until after Jake was born before scheduling an appointment. 

Today I am so grateful that I did attend strong start and I did make that appointment with child development. 
Long long storey short..... The first year was full of many ups and more downs, i spent countless hours researching.  Reading.  Connecting.  Searching. interviewing, hiring and firing and our team did not just happen overnight. now 16 months later we have a team working with Cayden that i see and feel is the best for him. Occupational therapy, reference and regulate intervention and speech therapy. The team we have now has made such an incredible difference in Cayden and he is doing tremendous. They call him their "superstar"⭐

His speech has improved (40% of autistic kids don't ever talk)
He makes fantastic eye contact, has slowly started to play with others and definitely notices when they are near now. 
He still has his challenges everyday and some set backs at times but I/we have HOPE 
Hope can be elusive in the world of autism.  I need to have it because it encourages me, motivates me, inspires me.  To research.  To learn.  To engage.  To advocate.  To teach.  To accept.  To strive.  But it can be precarious.

My son's diagnosis was painful.  It was lonely.  It was isolating.  But as soon as I was able to move through all of that, as soon as I was able to focus on his therapy and surrounded myself and my family with people who understood this condition and who were committed to helping Cayden I was able to learn from it, grow from it, and even embrace it.