This I Believe

Jacquelynn - Wesley Chapel, Florida
Entered on April 6, 2007

I believe in being happy. I believe in greeting each day with a smile. I believe that our day should be filled not grumblings, but with laughter. This is how my son lives. He is 3 years old and is Autistic. Sometimes I think that it bothers me more than it does him. I still remember the day I came home and my mother told me what the doctor had said. There were many things that could be wrong with him or perhaps nothing at all. The two most likely though, were that he was deaf or Autistic. I remember laughing then thinking that I could cope with deaf. There were schools and I had always wanted to learn sign language. Besides what is Autism? I didn’t know. There was no way my son could have this strange disorder, or was it a disease? Well after a battery of tests the results came back, Autism Spectrum Disorder. At that moment something in me died. I couldn’t stop crying. What now? It was as if the moment those words had been spoken my son had been struck down. It was as if the very words themselves had killed him. Autism Spectrum Disorder; just the very sound of it was scary. Thankfully my family was able to find good therapists and all kinds of people willing to help, however I couldn’t help but think… it’s over. He’ll never be normal. He’ll never lead a normal life. Every dream I had ever had for him just shriveled up inside me. I couldn’t even bear to look at him at times. Going to work was even harder. I work with children all day long. I meet sons and daughters who are 2 and 3 and have twice the language skills of my son. It was wrenching, yet as I continued to watch it was only a matter of time before these children talk back, pester a sibling, or do something so typical of any 3 year old. In that moment I smile. My son is so much happier than any of these children. I know when I finally get home disgruntled and tired he’ll be happy to see me. He’ll be running around laughing and smiling. He almost never stops smiling. At that point I have to ask myself, what am I so miserable about? He has almost no communication skills; every day is a challenge for him. He works so hard to get a little bit better and yet he can still smile and laugh. He can still be unconditionally happy. Yes he has his bad moments, we all do, but his capacity for happiness and love extends so far beyond everyone, everything, even his own situation. He is my strength. So what do I believe? I believe there is no end, only a new beginning and another opportunity to learn to be happy, without conditions, without barriers. In this I Believe.