Before my daughter, Aurora, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at 2 years old, I knew something was going on with my baby. She had lost many of her interactive skills. She no longer used her sign language or pointed when she wanted something. She didn’t play with toys the way most children did. She walked on her toes and although she didn’t speak to communicate, she made sing-song noises as she stared at herself in the mirror for hours.
I had experience with autism and I knew that these were all things that could be symptoms, but even though I felt like I knew, when the developmental pediatrician gave me that little slip of paper with her nearly illegible scrawl, I felt my brain shut down. I nodded at everything the social worker said, but didn’t hear a word. I gathered my things, smiled politely at the women at reception as we checked out and kept it all together...
Until I got to my car.
Once my little girl and my six month old son were secure in their car seats, I couldn’t even put the car in drive before the flood gates opened. I sat in the front seat and felt all the things I hadn’t even realized I had wished for my daughter come crashing down. Would she ever be able to go to college? Have a career? Get married? Have a family of her own?
So, did I know? Yes...and No.
It only took a few minutes for the tears to stop, but it took much longer than that for me to come to terms with the fact that she didn’t need any of those ideas I had for her future to be happy. I still don’t know if she will have those things in her future, but what I do know is that she doesn’t need them to be the person that she was meant to be or to be happy. She doesn’t need a fancy career or a husband or even children to make her life amazing and complete.
Fast forwarding to today I am able to appreciate all the wonderful and pure things about my beautiful, goofy preschooler. She is so full of joy and shows me everyday what it is to lay down expectations and be thankful for what I was given.
So when people ask me if I knew something was different before taking Aurora to see that doctor, my answer is this. I knew that she wasn’t typically developing, but I didn’t know the effect that would have on our family and the future and I think we discover that a little more every day.
Megan is a stay at home mom of two au-some kids & the co-director of the Hoboken Special Needs Parents Group. Her daughter Aurora (4) attends the Pre-K ABA program at Wallace Elementary. Her son Clark is 2 1/2 and is receiving services through early intervention. Both children are extremely active and always keep Megan on her toes! She and her husband moved to Hoboken 2 years ago and were blown away by the help they received from the Hoboken School District. You can also find Megan in her role as the children’s ministry leader at Hoboken Grace Church, where she oversees the care of infants ages 6 weeks to 18 months old.