Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose

Categories: Parent Perspective

A few months ago, I worked at my friend’s diner, and I watched a team of young football players come in to eat with their parents. They were cheering and giving each other high fives because they had just won their championship. In their moment of excitement, I felt sad.

A few weeks ago, I was at Starbucks I watched as a mom and her middle-school aged son chatted and laughed with one another. It was a wonderful, simple moment for them, but again I felt sad.

In each of those moments of joy for those individuals, I felt a bit of wonder as well.

I thought to myself –
“Will Colt and I ever experience a simple conversation like that?”
“Will he ever have a team to be a part of?”

And the one that was the hardest to think about…….
“Will Colt ever have friends to have high five and celebrate with?”

It is very easy to get lost in the “will he…?” and sometimes forget about the “he is…” that is happening right in front of us.

At the same Starbucks that I had witnessed the mother and son, I ended up having a conversation with a gentleman that was sitting next to me. He said something that stuck with me- God doesn’t always satisfy our wants but He certainly satisfies our needs.

It hit me. This statement could not more reflect Colt and the life he has given us from the moment I found out I was pregnant with him. As Colt’s parents, my husband and I have had to learn to see life through his eyes, not our own. Our family, our life, and our plans took a different path. This path had to be viewed with clear eyes. March will be a year of Colton’s diagnosis. I am certain this was the path that our family needed.

This picture was taken in the morning of his appointment in the waiting room of the office.

I can remember his diagnosis day as if it was yesterday. The doctor had unofficially told me that Colton would receive an autism diagnosis before we left his evaluation. I remember driving home crying hysterically. During his appointment, I watched as he did not respond to any commands or engage with the evaluator, refused to stay in the office and screamed/cried/hit/kicked & smashed his head on the ground because he could not have the doctor’s Doritos that were left on the table. Honestly, it was one of the hardest things to witness and there was nothing I could do as his mom to make it right. However, what I did not realize was, in that moment, I was giving Colton exactly what he needed- support.

Fast forward to now, where I recently reviewed Colton’s yearly progress with his SLP and teachers. Their notes from this time last year (just at the time of diagnosis) said:
*mostly non-verbal
*hesitant and resistant to touch
*difficulty in direction following and waiting

This was spot on. At the time I did everything I could do to remain positive, but internally I was stressed and uncertain.

We then talked about where we are now:
*verbal communication rapidly increasing
*affectionate and empathic towards others
*understands and most often follows through on direction and making progress in patience and waiting

It has been a year of ups and downs. It has also been a year of education and growth. Colt continues to amaze me each day. Our journey is nowhere near over. In fact, it is just beginning. Although it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, I’ve learned to appreciate the harder, more challenging times, because without those we couldn’t get to where we are today. I remind myself to approach all situations, the good and the not so good, with a full heart.

Over the last year I know that Colt’s progress comes not only with the work that he puts in daily but with the commitment, compassion, patience, and dedication of his teachers, BCBAs, SLPs, OT and many miles on my car!

We have been fortunate to connect with some amazing providers and I have realized that this is the most important team Colt could have – and we can’t lose. When conversations were difficult, I learned to trust, hope, and pray.

Last evening, I was making dinner and I told Colton that I was making chicken. In typical 4-year-old fashion, he responded “that’s disgusting. I want tacos” by selecting icons and typing on his AAC. So, although right now we may not be having verbal conversations in Starbucks, Colt and I have OUR moments and those moments are perfect.

As a family, this journey has taken us to places we never imagined. We are grateful for the lessons over this past year and look forward to where our journey takes us.

Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose

Ashley McClain
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