The words that scare us most
Like many of you, our family has had its share of devasting moments.
A few years ago, our sweet grandson was not responding to his name. At eighteen months he wasn’t talking. His older sister was quite the chatterbox by that time. I know, I know, you shouldn’t compare one to another. Each child is different.
His parents brushed it off as “being a boy.” His other grandparents claimed it was because he was spoiled. My parents thought he was deaf. I knew better. Our grandson was most assuredly not hearing impaired. When his favorite Disney movie was put on the TV, he would come running, from anywhere in the house as soon as the introductory music began. His hearing was fine.
At 22 months of age, a doctor’s appointment and a referral to a neurologist confirmed my suspicions. “Your child has autism.” What I wasn’t prepared for were his next comments, “He is in the severe category. He will be non-verbal. You should start researching adult placement for him.”
Our son was in shock, our daughter-in-law cried, and I went in to research mode. Having worked with autistic teenagers and gone through some training to serve them best, I believed all was not lost.
The family had a few weeks of grief over the loss of the childhood they had envisioned for their son. Then, being the one to always encourage others to move positively forward, I presented the simple facts. “This is what is it. The real question is, ‘Now what?’” How do we move forward with this information? How can we help our grandson be the best person he can be?
At the age of five, Connor started mimicking people. Not voluntarily, but if you told him to say something, he would give it his best effort. That was when I knew, without a doubt, that the boy is very capable. He learns differently than other children, and it is our job to help him get what he knows inside him, to be communicated to others.
I would love to tell you he has, at the age of nine, become a chatterbox. He hasn’t. The road is long and the progress slow. However, we have never given up hope that our grandson will be able to communicate with others and live a wholly satisfying life. He may not be able to live on his own. He will most likely live with his sister. He may end up in a group home, but he will not be institutionalized as the doctor initially suggested.
No matter what your scary word is: Autism, Cancer, Incurable, Terminal. We must never give up hope.
The things I often tell others are…
Find your new normal
Trust that God knows what He’s doing