Autism at 14

As I reflect upon Scottie’s life thus far and how the diagnosis of autism altered the course we dreamed and planned for her, I pause to think about how it looks now at 14.

  • I still cannot wrap my head around what lifestyle changes are truly necessary in order to support her the most.

  • I can honestly say I have no idea what causes autism.

  • I have “kinda” tried diet changes and essential oils hoping that something magical would happen, only to discover that I can find no differences.

  • I am still on guard in public because I know she looks different and people will stare.  And surprisingly, people are still unkind and thoughtless.

  • I feel anxious for her when we are in a loud, sensory-overloaded environment because I know that she is struggling.

  • I desperately want to beat it.  Fight it. Get rid of it. Do anything I can to make her life just a little easier.

  • I mourn the what-ifs for her...for me...for our family.

  • I absolutely cannot see the why or big picutre reason.

  • I struggle with conflicting emotions of wanting to correct and yet simultaneously celebrate when Scottie rolls her eyes or stamps her foot with a fantastic teenage attitude.

  • I just want to get through one day without being reminded that I have a child with autism.

  • I want to get through a week without beating myself up because I feel like I am failing her.

  • I want to be able to leave her at home by herself because she is 14 years old and she wants to have some independence.  She says, “What? Don’t you trust me?” isn’t a trust thing baby girl!

  • I want to dream of what our lives could be like when our babies all leave the nest and have families of their own, but that isn’t in our cards.

  • I want to dream about her future mate and what little Scottie babies would have looked like...what career would she have chosen?

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Autism is hard.  It was hard at 3.  At 9. And, it is hard at 14.  Life changing. Life altering.

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Autism is beautiful.  My Scottie is beautiful.  Despite the long list of hardships, difficulties, and what-ifs, I am so very thankful that she is mine.  She is exactly who she is meant to be, and we are the blessed ones. We get to call her ours. She sees me.  Really sees me. Sees the sighs. Sees my frustration. Sees my joy. Sees my pride. She sees me as I learn to love bigger and better.  She sees the real me. The me that is hidden and guarded with everyone else. She sees me, and she still loves me. How incredibly lucky am I that I have experienced the "being known completely and accepted wholly?"

April is Autism Awareness Month.  The statistics change yearly because the reality is, more and more children are being diagnosed with autism.  The latest number I found today is 1 in 41. 1 in 41. Chances are you know several children, teenagers, or adults with autism.  Chances are you encounter someone daily. Treat them with respect and admiration. Be full of grace. Be kind. Daily, they face a world that requires them to face their fears.  They are some of the bravest people you will ever meet. Learn from them. Do life alongside of them. Look them in the eyes and allow them to see you. All of you. I will not regret it!

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