Today I was brought back to when Mateo was first diagnosed, thinking of the process, the emotions, the questions and the fear. I was visited today by a Mom of a boy almost exactly two years younger than Mateo. And seeing her made me realize how far we really have come. Not just Mateo but all of us.
Last week the company that provides our home therapy program asked if it would be ok if someone came to the house to observe Mateo at our house. I of course welcomed the visit. I am happy to share what we go through on a daily basis, you of course know this because I share it with all of you. So I cleaned my house and tried to make myself look presentable. But of course Mateo woke up in a mood. It took him 45 minutes to get dressed today, it normally takes him about 6. I told his tutor, “figures he would act up when people are coming to observe.” She laughed at me and said “Well if anyone would understand… ” This in turn made me laugh at myself for worrying about the state of my house and Mateo’s mood to a mom of an autistic child.
So she came with one of the head-ups in the company. And at first she stood back and observed, whispering a question here or there to him. Then she looked at me and asked, “How old is Mateo?” I told her 4 and that he would be 5 in April. She looked at me again and tears began to well in her eyes, as she said “This gives me hope”. Then she apologized and tears began to flow. I told her “don’t apologize, if anyone can understand, I can understand! This has been a journey, it’s a lot of work. But don’t give up hope, never give up hope!” And she smiled and went on to ask me lots of wonderful questions.
And it felt so good to be here to help her, to answer all of those questions that I had when I started too.
– Is it weird having people in your house all the time? Yes it is, but you get used to it.
– Was he talking at all when you started? A word here and there but nothing compared to now.
-Does PECS really work? Yes, it was amazing for Mateo. He became so frustrated trying to think of the words all the time, when he had the PECS Icons, the words just came. Now he doesn’t use them at all.
-Did they help you with Potty Training? Yes, they were amazing. They spent 8-10 hours a day here helping.
I later heard that she was glad to see a Mom that was happy with the program. And I was so happy to be here for someone. I was her just two years ago. I would cry at every appointment and when I would just think about his future, and what it meant for all of us. I would worry and cry all of the time. I still don’t know what the future will bring, but I know he can speak in sentences now. He can answer a question his teacher asks him. He can count and knows his colors. He can spell and write his name. So now two years later I don’t cry every time I think of his diagnosis. In fact I speak proudly about Mateo, and about Autism. I see how far we have all come, and I know he will go so far.
Her son can’t do any of those things yet, but Mateo gave her hope today. And that was an amazing gift.