This I Believe

Kari - Robbinsdale, Minnesota
Entered on February 3, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
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God misheard me when I asked for an artistic child. Instead, God gave me an autistic child.

This I believe: It could always be worse. How many times I have heard that since my son was diagnosed with autism? When I was first told the hopes and dreams for my child were dashed away. I felt ashamed. I blamed myself; this diagnosis put life into perspective. My hopes and dreams of being a mother now were complicated by having to be a fighter.

I wasn’t ready for the news that my son, Harrison, was diagnosed with autism; I was 8 months pregnant with my second child; I was in the middle of my masters, my marriage was in hell and I lived in a house that should have been condemned. I didn’t feel strong enough.

I cried for the first twenty four hours. But somehow, I had known. During that year, this beautiful boy had been slowly disappearing from me. Harrison stopped looking in my eyes, repetitious behaviors became more evident and he stopped pointing. Worst of all he stopped talking.

I am an artist; I had dreams of my son having this same gift and love for artistic expression. I had attempted to get Harrison to finger paint. He would only paint with the tip of his middle finger and then start to scream. My dreams of proudly displaying refrigerator art disappeared in an instant.

The next year blurred with a new baby’s arrival, but my focus was only Harrison. I remember the backside of every door of every doctor’s office. My days were marked by doctor’s appointments. I remember every blood draw, MRI·you name the test. My beautiful son endured many more tests than most people do in a life time!

Over twenty doctors and therapists told me that Harrison may never talk, again. Some told me there was nothing I could do·that anything I try may or may not work. Autism is a puzzle, no two children are affected in the same way. I knew this, but I did not want to accept it.

I became obsessed with research. I called people, read books, and surfed the internet. I traveled everywhere, sending my credit cards’ balance through the roof. I forced the art teacher in me to become as knowledgeable about autism as art. I decided to (cure) my son, regardless of what the doctors said. With that energy to beat the diagnosis or prognosis and knowing in my heart it could be worse There was hope. I wanted to prove those doctors wrong. Five months after the diagnosis Harrison said his first word, (BALL.) He looked right into my eyes at; then I knew in my heart that WE were going to be okay.

Things can always be worse. At first that sounds trite; but this experience of realizing my son’s difficulties had so wrenched at my soul that I honestly wasn’t sure at the time. Now, Harrison talks and is engaged with the world around. He even draws and paints. I believe he is more prolific than Picasso and has more insight then Basquiat. I still cry but crying can be cathartic, and it is a part of the artist in me.