12 years, Autism, and my camera

Anyone who knows me knows I rarely leave home without my camera. Let’s face it, I take A LOT of pictures! I am sitting here looking back through the past 12 years of my son’s life, and I am again reminded of one of the reasons my camera is so special to me. Looking back through Pictures, and am reminded how Blessed I am! To each person who is important in my son’s life, who has taken the time to step into his world, THANK YOU! To Dak, my dear sweet boy, Happy 12th Birthday! You have taught me so much about life, and Patience, Unconditional love, and joy, and here I thought I am supposed to be teaching YOU! I love you Dak-man, and am amazed by you!

Today, Dak is 12 years old. It has been an amazing, yet rough journey to this point. When he was 18 months old, like someone flipping a switch, He stopped eye contact, speech development, affection. It all just screeched to a halt. One of the most precious moments was when, for the first time, at 4 years old I heard him say ” I love you Mommy”. I still cry when I think back on it all. He has come so far from that  withdrawn, non verbal bundle of constant energy.  Sure, He still can give the energizer bunny a run for his money, but He is talking more. I don’t care if half of it is echolalia. I don’t care if 90% of the time He is speaking in “Dakese” He is TALKING, and that is a start!

One of the things that jumped out as me as I went back through photos from the past 12 years was how in the past year or so, His social world has grown. Up until last year most of his photos are either of him playing alone, or those “Mom has to have a sibling photo” type things. Then I got to the photos from 2010, and noticed a gradual change. Photos of him with FRIENDS! He ASKED for a Birthday party last year, even wrote me out a guest list. that was HUGE!

On this, my son’s 12th Birthday, I have to say Thank you….

Thank you God, for my son. He is fearfully and wonderfully made, and I know that You have a plan for His life.

To those who have stood by us on this journey, who have not walked out, but stepped up and said “I am here”, Thank you….

To those who have taken the time to see PAST the meltdowns, the non stop energy, the lack of verbal skills, and waited patiently for Dak to open up his world and let you in, Thank you!

To The kids both “typical” and Special needs who Dak has connected with, There simply are no words for how much it means to me when he yells “That’s my BEST FRIEND!” or yanks my arm out of the socket to get to you and hug you.

To his “typical” friends who don’t see the differences, who look past the surface, you are wise beyond your years, and if you remember these lessons later in life, you will go far!

To the adults who have been granted the honor of making his (Short) list of friends, grouped in with the kids, there are four of you who come to mind….You have NO idea how much it means to me to see my son’s face LIGHT up when Your names get mentioned.

To those family members who rather than judge or criticize, have held out open arms when I need a hug, called to check on me when Military orders take my other half away, who have been my rock, THANK YOU!

I am thankful for Miracle League Baseball, for providing a way for my son and his daddy to connect….

for His teachers who have helped me through so much….

to our church family ( which stretches around the world)…your prayers are what gets me through the hardest days, the moments when I feel as though I simply cannot take another step, that I can’t fight another battle.

Thank you to my husband, who walks with me on the front lines, who picks me up when I fall, who takes over when I collapse from exhaustion, who shares the joys, and tears.

Thank you to my two sweet beautiful daughters, who stand up for their brother in this cruel world, who (most of the time) are patient with him, and who amaze me with their perspective on Him, on life, friendships, and who sometimes understand their brother better than I do!

Dak, it has been an amazing 12 years, and I look forward to seeing what God has in store as you continue to Grow! Thank you for reminding me that its the simple things that matter, for showing me that TIME is what is important, for reminding me to stop and smell the flowers. I love you my super hero!

“Close your eyes,
Have no fear,
The monsters gone,
He’s on the run and your daddy’s here,

Beautiful,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,

Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer,
Every day in every way,
It’s getting better and better,

Beautiful,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,

Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we’ll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it’s a long way to go,
But in the meantime,

Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans,

Beautiful,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,
Darling,
Darling,
Darling Sean. (Dakota)

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