Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2010 in Review

On December 11, 2009, the CEO was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and I felt like our little family unit was silenced with the diagnosis.  I remember hearing the doctor say autism and feeling the blood rush to my head.  The roaring sound of my blood silenced most of her words.  Key words struck like lightening; non-verbal, self-abusive, MR.  I couldn't understand.  What did she mean institutionalize?  My senses were heightened.  It was cold out.  My nose could smell the eminent snowfall, my skin had goosebumps from the chill.  My eyes watered continuously from the bitterness of the air and the bitterness in my heart.  I went home and I could barely speak into the phone and explain to my husband what the doctor had said. He was at work, about to go on the air. My voice kept cracking.  I cleared my throat several times before I could mutter the word, Autism.  I couldn't say anything more without sobbing and my husband had 40 seconds left before the song ended...We hung up with that word hanging between us, Autism.

Things moved so quickly after that.  I remember certain days with a clarity that is striking in the details and some days are a blur. 

On December 25th, my husband and I woke up early to listen to his coworkers' children take over the air waves for the holidays.  It was one of the nicest events of the year.  Since our children had been born, we were waiting for the day that we could hear our little future DJs do their first break.  We were able to appreciate it for about 25 minutes before the reality that our daughters, Bugabuga and the CEO, did not speak and very possibly may never speak.  We held hands each time the mic was opened.  Holding on for dear life.  We needed to turn off the radio but we just couldn't take that step.  Each word fell with the impact of a knife in the heart.  We whispered to each year, next year...they will talk next year...

The frenzy of doctor visits commenced.  I had to check my notes to confirm that I was bringing the right child with me to correct appointment.  January 15th, and a psychologist is meeting with me and the girls.  Four hours later, the psychologist is gone and I'm making another call to my husband.  "Honey!  Autism, both of them."   He had to do a break.  I hung up and cried.  Our three daughters had Autism.  Where do we go from here?

I started picking therapists brains.  We didn't know what they needed and we couldn't even say the word Autism.  Denial and anger were a constant companion.  How do you ask for help if you can't even admit what is wrong?  

We needed everyone but we couldn't say a word.  To admit that we were devastated was unacceptable but we expected everyone to know and support us.  February 1st, we send our girls to a special Autistic Program -school- for the first time.  We loaded them on the bus and got on it with them so they would be comfortable.  The Baby looked curious and a bit scared.  Bugabuga squeezed her eyes shut for the whole ride.  She shook continuously.  The CEO screamed and cried.  We soothed and she screamed louder.  We were sweating by the time the bus arrived at the school 20 minutes later.  We helped the staff unload the kids and sat in the lobby.  We listened to the girls scream for the entire two hours. We stood at their classroom door and saw the CEO slamming her little body against the floor and Bugabuga shaking in her seat.  The Baby sat quietly with her chin resting against her chest.  Tears were silently plopping onto her shirt.  We could barely stand the pain that we heard.  We held hands and ignored the tears in each other's eyes.  We ignored the fact that my husband had lost his job that morning. We could do this.

April 9th, Handsome was diagnosed.  This time my husband was home and we could deal with this together.  We held each other tightly and started the process to get him help.

Our girls are finishing their program next week.  They are graduating into preschool and they are doing wonderfully.   Better than all the doctors expected.  They can call me Mommy now and they have a nice little arsenal of vocabulary.  We are so proud.  They worked so hard to be able to get to this point.We worked so hard.

I was reading the initial intake paperwork recently and I was struck by the CEO's first goal. " X will show emotion and smile and laugh appropriately."  I look at her now and watch her sing a Barbie song on the top of her lungs. Smiling and laughing, falling on the floor in a fit of giggles.  We did it.  They are going to be okay.

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