Many years ago, my husband and I were like many other couples, married later in life, both working, we wanted to have a family, and were not able to conceive. After years of treatments, we finally made the decision to adopt. After many twists & turns, we were surprised by a call regarding a little 8 month old boy, who was being cared for by his Grandparents until a family could be found. Would we be interested in meeting him? “Of course!” we said, and our lives were totally changed from that one call.
It was the first time that my husband had ever held a baby; he just stared at him in awe. Afterward he confided to me that if we didn’t get this little guy, he would be devastated. A couple of weeks later we were taking him home, he would be ours, and we named him Harrison. We were THRILLED. Little did we know then, that this special little gift held more surprises for us just around the corner.
His paediatrician said that he was healthy, in the 25% range, but that he had not reached some of the typical milestones. He said it might just be developmental delays due to his early care. Good care, love and nutrition could do wonders for a child. Up until then, he had been bounced around a bit within his family. He had also been born w/ some drugs in his system. The doctor felt that we should wait a little longer before having him tested for possible problems. He didn’t want him “labelled” prematurely.
At 3-1/2 Harrison was diagnosed with Autism, and we were turned inside out trying to learn all we could about this puzzling disability, and what we could do to improve our son’s chances. Back then Autism was not in the public eye, like it is now, the internet was the source for information. We didn’t even know anyone who was Autistic. I had to learn “the code” and how to navigate through things like ESE, med waiver, OT, PT, ST, ABA therapies, elopement, meltdowns, 504’s & IEP’s, and lack of sleep. We soon had alarms on every window and door, so we would know if Harrison had snuck outside to look at something, only he had the impulse to see.
Now Harrison is 13. We have since adopted a second special needs child, “Hannah” from China. In the last 2-1/2 years since we brought her home, Harrison has reached many more milestones, many we think have been achieved with the help & encouragement of a little sister. He continues to excel in “baby steps”, and we couldn’t be more proud of him. Our lives are never dull, full of challenges, but we couldn’t imagine living it without this little man’s part in it.
Autism is a blessing in many ways. He has taught us patience, perseverance, joy, frustration, focus, but most of all love. He doesn’t pay attention to what other people think or say about him, he is his own person. He finds joy in the simplest of things, most of us tend to overlook.
He never forgets anything. He doesn’t “get lost”, it’s us who do. He is loyal to a fault: Thomas the Tank is still as important to him now, as it was when he was 3, whether anyone else thinks it’s cool or not. He’s constant & consistent: chocolate chip cookies must be warm from the oven, and served daily. The smell of them warms my heart, and will always make me think of him, and count our blessings.
By S. Andersen-Moore
* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism and special needs experience.