Facebook posts to the tune of “As of today, I have a Senior in high school” and “All our kiddos are officially done with preschool, where did the time go?” have been lining my feed lately.
And all that is wonderful of course. Over the last 7 years, one of the things I’ve come to cherish most about parenting are the changes you get to observe in your children over time as they grow and develop.
If you have a child with special needs, you already know that those changes often come rather slowly and after hours of intensive therapy, schooling, encouragement and work.
The most frightening part of all that for parents of children on the Autism Spectrum is that without warning, all that great progress and change can just disappear as part of regression.
Since his diagnosis, I’ve come to accept that regression is a very real part of Jackson’s life, and that it is o.k. I’m so very proud of all the skills he has acquired in spite of his Autism.
But every now and then I’ll see a post from the parent of a neuro-typical child and it will just stop me in my tracks.
“Little B just turned 7 and has been devouring chapter books! He read three just over the long weekend. Does anyone have age appropriate recommendations for some more that he might like? This kid can’t get enough!”
*BAM* The first time I read those words, it felt like the wind had been knocked out of me.
Let me just say right here that what hurt me about this post isn’t that “Little B” loves reading and is great at it or even that his mom shared about it on Facebook, it’s that Jackson is also 7 years old and cannot read.
And until the moment I read that status, I hadn’t even given much thought to Jackson reading…and then when I did it was just. so. hard.
When talking to other parents, I’ve often expressed that I feel like the grieving process after Jackson’s Autism diagnosis has been a long and tricky one.
When I learned I was expecting a boy in April of 2007, my head swirled with ideas about the kind of child he would be. He would play soccer, NOT football, because that was far too dangerous. He would be funny, just like his dad, and all the girls at school would love him for that. He might even take after me and excel at painting or photography.
So, when his diagnosis took some of those dreams away, it was hard.
It IS hard.
It’s hard because I love this little boy more than life itself…and since the day he was diagnosed I’ve wanted to fix it. To make things all better. To give him the world.
As time has passed though, I’ve realized that Jackson doesn’t need to be fixed. Just to be loved and given every chance possible to be awesome in his own way.
And so we hike, and camp, and cruise, and explore…and it has been incredible.
Last Friday night we went roller skating for the first time. After several laps around the floor with me helping him along, I let go of Jackson….and he continued scooting forward without me.
In that moment, I could not have been prouder…and the thing is, there are so many more moments to come.