It happened three days ago. The moment was so surreal that I still haven’t really processed it except through tears of joy. I had lots of hope, but there was still that place in the back of my mind that acknowledged the possibility that it may never happen. When your child is diagnosed with Autism, you just never know what seemingly ordinary things may become the things you dream about and long for…
Three days ago, my son spoke his first word. My daughter, who is also on the spectrum, didn’t speak until she was almost three. I knew better than to grow impatient. Instead, I hung onto my son’s every noise and rejoiced at his occasional babbling as he reached further and further into toddlerhood. I silently prayed that one day I’d hear him talk. Yet, I knew the reality of our situation and I had resolved to count myself as blessed, no matter what milestones he did or didn’t reach.
He’s now eighteen months old and I’m crying even as I type this…because Autism has changed the way I dream. The moment I heard my son’s first word, which was a clear-as-day “talking” (not the typical first word…little smarty pants 😉 ), a dream had come true for me. He hasn’t said anything since, and I know full well that it may be a very long time before he does; even longer before he can effectively communicate. Yet, my heart is full. I am content. My soul is rejoicing because I heard my boy speak…and one of the hidden blessings of this journey is not taking a single stride for granted. Instead, we cherish and celebrate every single “little” accomplishment. For my son, for my whole family, one simple word changed everything. Our hope is deepened. Though most days lately have been really, really tough and the hard work is never-ending, nothing can take away the joy that I feel when that hard work pays off. Being a special needs parent is hard. Deeply painful at times. Yet, it comes with a measure of blessing that is incomparable.
This calling has challenged everything I thought I knew about life. I had plans. So did God. They looked nothing alike but He’s proven, time and time again, that He knows what’s best for us. As I look back at all of the dreams I thought I’d lost on diagnosis day, I realize that my dreams aren’t lost…just different. To the outside world, these dreams may look unremarkable. My heart knows better. My heart has learned that sometimes the smallest miracles bring about the greatest feelings of fulfillment and joy. Now I understand that sometimes I need to let go of what I thought my dreams were so that I can experience the greater dreams God has for me.
Today, I get to fill in the “My First Words” page of my son’s baby book. Today is another dream come true.