At this time, exactly three years ago, someone I had just met told me that you may never do the things that other children do. They watched you play and wrote things down on clipboards. They asked me questions about when you walked, when you talked, about what you like and dislike. They watched videos of your stimming.
Exactly three years ago, I learned that you are autistic.
On this day, two years ago, I was begging time to slow down. I was dreading giving you up, sending you to the wrong school, making the wrong choice. A blur of information and responsibilities surrounded us – school placements and EHCPs and formal autism assessments. It felt like there was little help. It felt like we must muddle through, alone.
At this time, one year ago, I was hoping that the promises would be kept, that your needs would be met, that I would not have to pick you up off the floor, every day. I was sobbing as I left you, uncertain and afraid.
This morning I held you hand as we walked to your new classroom, while you excitedly listed off the differences between last year and this – “This year mummy, this year my class has a different name…and it is in a different place. But the girls and boys, they are the same!”
– and I watched as you ran into your classroom and hugged a friend, without a look back at me. I watched you chatting to your TA, animated and delighted to have her attention.
This morning, I know that those promises have been kept, that your school go above and beyond to support you, to keep you safe and happy.
Three years – such a short space of time. You have come into focus since then. Long-limbed and wide-eyed with freckles dancing around your eyes, you are so much a school boy now. Your new uniform needed no adjustment. It does not seem to drown you like it did last year.
I am different too.
I am not lost any more. I do not fear autism, I embrace it. I accept it as my own, both as you are my own and separately.
September is always a time for reflection, for new beginnings and challenges. I am a teacher in my soul and old habits die hard. This year, September is bright and hopeful – more hopeful than it has been in a long, long time.
That is not to say that things will be easy. I know there will be times when I feel just as afraid and lost. I know there will be times when your smile vanishes, when things are so hard, when I fear I have made the wrong choice for you – all over again. The future is still so unknown; there will be much to fight for.
But your successes light up every dark part of our lives, your joys drive out the doubt that could haunt me.
And next September, lord help us, your sister will join you…
For more about our lives and autism, take a look at our Autism Category