Three years ago casey and I made our way to Disneyland w the girls. Cali was barley two and Ava was just four months. Don’t ask me why we would ever bring kiddos to D-land at those ages, but we did! Lesson learned!!
At this point we had no idea Cali was autistic. A couple of months before, Casey’s mom and dad made a visit to see newborn Ava. Casey’s mom, Grace, mentioned Cali’s lack of speech but this was THE fist mention of any kind of delay and frankly I wasn’t too concerned about a minor speech delay.
Flash forward to Disneyland and I became aware of delay number two. Our dear friends Laura and Dan were vacationing with us and Laura was the very first person to notice Cali’s lack of eye contact. She asked me if I had noticed Cali not looking at me in the eyes when talking to her. Seriously how could I be so blind! The answer was no. I truly had not noticed her lack of eye contact. But oh my how I noticed after it was mentioned.
Most of you know the story from there. If not, click on the diagnosis tab and you will get all the heartfelt details.
After the Disney trip w Laura and Dan, Casey and I promised we would not step foot in Disneyland for another three years plus. Not until Cali was at least five! I think we lost that girl at every turn! Definitely dealt with screams and over stimulation. We even dealt with midnight vomiting…clearly not related to autism, but definitely a nice little cherry on top. Yep, Disneyland was not to be on our radar for a LONG time!
Well, Cali turned five in September and what do you know we made our way back to disney. This time was a girls trip. My mom, Cali, Ava, and myself. How did it go….
It was complete magic!!! I get teary writing those very words! We barely spent a full two days in the park, but every single second was perfect. Yes, even the occasional whine was tolerable. Both Cali and Ava did awesome and their eyes lit up at every turn.
The moment that captured my heart was a moment in Toone Town as we rode a mini roller coaster. I was sitting with Cali directly behind my mom who was sitting with Ava. As the we took off, we slowly crept up on an incline as you commonly do on a roller coaster. I was showing Cali how to raise up her arms to scream with excitement once we started going fast. Just as our cart reached the tip top of the incline, I could tell Cali was anticipating the next step. The ride started downward and Cali threw her arms up into the air! She was yelling, “Yaaaayyyyy!” ” Wahoo!”. As the ride took a sharp right turn Cali’s yell turned into laughter and that is the moment that stole my heart. The laughter was something different this time. It was pure and genuine and a laugh I had yet to hear in all of Cali’s five years of being here! In that moment I realized I had yet to hear Cali laugh from the heart. I knew it was different because something in my mind and heart was telling me I had never heard this sound before. It was beautiful! Really, her laugh was one of the most beautiful sounds I have heard. I quickly pulled out my phone to capture the laugh but the ride came to a stop and it was gone. Lucky for me Cali wanted to “do it again”.
This time I was prepared. I had my phone out ready to capture the laughter. We climbed the incline and slowly tipped over the edge to begin the twisty, turn-y ride. Cali’s hands were up in the air and her laughter soon came. The laughter was there but it wasn’t quite the same. Still made my grin from ear to ear!
Disneyland this time around was a complete 180. We made memories to last a lifetime! I can’t help but be overly grateful for Dawn, Madi, and Krisanne. Times like these make me realize just how special these three individuals have been in our lives, especially Cali’s. Thanks to each of you for making memories like this one a possibility! You are loved more than you know!
Oh and how could I leave without posting this video as well. Poor Ava was a little worn out. What do you think?!