Gabriel and Gatlin
Story of Hope by Mom
Our boys were diagnosed on June 3, 2010. They were 2 years and 11 months old. We already knew that it was autism that was slowing them down and preventing them from interacting with the world around them; we just needed that piece of paper signed by a doctor. I wasn’t in shock after I left. I had already begun wrapping my brain around it. I have to admit, in the beginning I was still in “survival mode”. I would wake up in the morning, take a deep breath, and encourage myself to just make it through the day. The boys ran the roost. I wasn’t sure where to begin with them. Once we began getting help from professionals (i.e. a developmental specialist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, and special education teachers), I didn’t feel as overwhelmed. We began seeing improvements. They were making eye contact. They were responding to their names. Occasionally they were playing correctly with toys, and they were beginning to follow one-step commands. Over the past 2.5 years that we have lived with autism, the more we learn about it, the more at ease I feel. I have had many sweet signs of hope since then. These three are very near and dear to my heart.
(Gabriel at 15 months)
(Gatlin at 15 months)
On February 20, 2012, I received a phone call from our boys’ school telling me that Gabriel wasn’t feeling well. I stopped what I was doing and went up to check on him. When I got there, he was sitting on one of aide’s laps. He didn’t have a fever or anything, he was just really sluggish and not his usual happy self. I ended up hanging around for a minute so I went to check on Gatlin’s class. They were playing in the gym. When I walked into the gym, Gatlin made eye contact with me, smiled, and ran straight for me. Then, he took my hand and started pulling me toward the door. I walked him back to class and stayed for a minute. When I went to leave, he began to cry. I picked him up and reassured him that I would see him after school. His teacher took him from me and I quickly left. I was crying before I could get out of the room. Gatlin and Gabriel are both non-verbal and there are many times I’ve wondered if they even know who I am. Do they love me? Do they recognize me as their mother? Yes. Yes they do. Gatlin answered that question for me that day. He wanted me, his mommy. He was sad to see me go. I will never forget the joy I felt when my little boy did such a “typical” thing that day.
More recently on January 22, 2013, Gabriel was finished with occupational therapy. His therapist came out and showed me how he wrote some of his letters all on his own. He didn’t need hand over hand help with several of the letters. He just sat down and began writing. We have only been working on letters for a few months. I was beyond thrilled and proud of my little man. Fine motor skills have been tough for us, but they are essential for life. He is getting it and actually enjoying it. I now have hope that one day he will be able to write and continue to learn. (I may or may not have framed that piece of paper.)
A couple of months ago on November 18, 2012, our daughter, Kaia, was in her room playing church. She had a keyboard and all of her dolls set up. Gabriel kept coming in there bothering her. It finally dawned on me that this could be a great opportunity to teach both children to play together. I talked with Kaia first and asked her if Gabriel could play. “Could he be the piano player?” I asked. She agreed. He loves music and loves the keyboard. I brought Gabriel in her room and showed him what to do. He happily sat and tapped away on the keys. Her singing and his playing was truly music to my ears! The two of them played together for about 20 minutes. My biggest hope is for Kaia to have a relationship with her brothers. That Sunday afternoon was definitely a start and gave me hope that it will happen.
We are continually blessed with sweet signs of hope in our home almost daily. On the days when I am discouraged or want to give up, my boys do something remarkable to remind me to stay strong and not lose faith in them. It is the simple things in life for us that bring us hope, peace, and joy in knowing that everything is going to be alright.
Sara is the mom to these two perfect little boys. I was introduced to Sara through my older sister Brit. Little did I know how inspired I would be by meeting this new found friend. From the moment I starting talking back and forth with Sara, whether through email or facebook, I couldn’t help but admire her positive outlook on this world of autism. This outlook has no doubt helped shape who and where Gabriel and Gatlin are today. I enjoyed reading the end to Sara’s story when she said, “On the days when I am discouraged or want to give up, my boys do something remarkable to remind me to stay strong and not lose faith in them.” Hope. It certainly does come from the simple yet remarkable moments in life.
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