Where has the time gone? I was looking through old photos on my computer, and I just can’t imagine Teghan being so little. But there she is. I remember that time as if it were both yesterday and a million years ago.
You know what I mean.
Those old photos reveal a family that has no idea what lies ahead. Well, that’s not entirely true. We had plenty of ideas- we just didn’t know how wrong we were. And if we did know, we talked ourselves out of it a thousand times before coming around to the realization that we needed to know that our fears were real. It can make you crazy to know…. until it makes you crazier not to know. I remember all of that, too.
But Teghan has always been our same sweet girl. She is very photogenic (if you aren’t looking for poses). And there was never a moment for us when she suddenly became different. She just failed to develop specific skills according to the accepted timeline. And what did that mean for our future? We had no idea. We still don’t know. But eventually, our new life did feel normal. We have new dreams, new parenting guidelines, and new expectations for the future. Probably all wrong, of course, but we aren’t exactly fortune tellers. We just have hope, like everyone else.
I keep coming across parents still in the fear stage of autism. Parents who only want to hear that their suspicions are wrong. Sometimes they are wrong. Sometimes people are crazy, and they are just always waiting for the next disappointment. They see another kid doing something before their kid and they jump to all sorts of conclusions that make no sense. Your child not being number one is not a disability.
Not a disability for your child, anyway.
But then there are the parents who really know something is wrong. They stopped trying to be number one a long time ago. They are desperately seeking for Google to tell them that some children do not point by this age. That a one-year old ignoring his parents can be normal. That language delays are a result of twenty other things, but hardly ever autism…. and they are getting scared.
I know I can’t fix that. I know that right now, looking at our life will not make them feel better. I know that our story is the scenario they are fearing the most- the nonverbal, severe end of the spectrum. I know, because we were once there. It’s a process. There are always going to be struggles and fear for the future. No one is immune to that. But that time in the beginning, when everything is unknown and you are desperately searching to disprove your fears- that’s the hardest part. And it does disappear.
Feeling better will come. And someday they will look back at their journey and find it hard to relate to how they once felt. They will look at old pictures and wish they could tell those parents that things are going to work out. They will want to tell them that there is plenty of happiness and hope ahead.
They will look at all the beautiful pictures of their child with pride, and they will wonder where the time has gone.