Mateo turns 6 today. Mateo was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2. At the age of 2, I had no idea where to expect Mateo to be at when he reached his 6th Birthday. I think we have a lot to celebrate!
When he was diagnosed I would often wake up in a panic. I would worry about his future, and ours. What if he never can have a conversation with me? What if he gets worst, and begins regressing? What if he never has real friends, or a girl friend or gets married?
When he was diagnosed, there were so many unknowns that would keep me up at night, send me into panic attacks, give me anxiety. Then I came to the conclusion that I cannot control Mateo’s future. I have to spend each day , helping him to do the best he can, and not to put unrealistic goals on him. So we began to take it one goal at a time.
My first goal was to get Mateo to communicate with us. Before we began using PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). Mateo didn’t have the words to communicate his wants and needs. He would stand in the kitchen crying, unable to tell us what he wanted to eat or drink. His frustration level and ours was unimaginable. Then we were taught how to use these little icons of images so he could express what he wanted. He would bring us that darn Candy icon, like 10 times a day. I wanted to hide it, but the therapists- said- you can’t hide them, they are his words!
So as I began taking it day to day and month to month and I watched his progression and saw how intelligent he was, then I began to stop worrying so much. I began to accept Autism as a part of Mateo, not a disability, just another way of seeing the world. Though it’s difficult to look at Autism as this wonderful thing, when you see your child struggling so hard to come up with words, to express his feelings, to fit in…it’s hard to see the good. But finding the positives, made all of the difference for me.
I had no idea that Mateo would be attending a mainstream Charter school with no Aide, making lots of friends, speaking to me in full sentences, doing his homework independently and progressing more and more each day on his 6th Birthday. I didn’t have those expectations, he has surpassed them all, and he continues to.
I couldn’t be prouder of him and how hard he has worked for all of these accomplishments! I am excited for what the future brings, I am excited to be writing this blog in 6 years, and see what 12 brings, in 12 years and see what 18 brings.
But for today, it’s just a very happy and special birthday wish for an incredible little boy. Happy, Happy Birthday Mateo!