By Jackie Moore – TACA Georgia
Every autism journey is different. This is our family’s journey with autism. Thirteen years ago, I gave birth to my daughter, Jordyn. At that time, I knew very little about autism. If you would have asked me what I knew, I think my response would have been something like “Isn’t that what Rainman had?”
When Jordyn was 24 months old, that changed. I heard the most difficult words I’ve ever heard in my life, “I think your child may have autism.” I remember the day like it was yesterday and I can honestly say I’ve never felt that kind of hurt in my life. Ben and I cried for a day and then got busy. You name it, we tried it! By 26 months, Jordyn was doing 40 hours of ABA therapy a week, speech therapy, the gluten/casein free diet and many, many more things. We were seeing gains in several areas, but we still weren’t getting language. Language was what I wanted more than anything! So, when Jordyn was almost 5, she and I moved from Missouri to North Carolina for a year so she could attend a private school specifically for children with autism. Our hope was that she would learn to talk. Ben stayed in Missouri due to his job and flew to North Carolina each weekend. To say it was a difficult year would be a huge understatement. During that year, Jordyn began having medical problems. She started having extreme anxiety to the point of panic attacks. Nothing we did would calm her and she would go days without sleeping. She looked terrified 24 hours a day. I wanted to give up, but giving up wasn’t an option.
We moved to Atlanta a year later and kept searching for answers. Accepting “that’s just autism” as a reason for her pain, anxiety and panic attacks was not an option I was willing to accept. As we continued figuring out the medical problems behind the autism, she started improving. The look of panic on her face started turning to a look of content. At that point, I realized a happy child was my ultimate goal and we were achieving it.
Autism is not a blessing and it’s not simply “thinking differently”, at least not in our house. It’s lack of speech, difficulty with social skills, academic delays, food allergies, gastrointestinal issues, eczema, seizures (although thank God so far this is not one we have faced) and the list could go on and on. Jordyn is a blessing, autism is not.
Jordyn is now 14 years old and while she still has many challenges she has come so far. She once had a look of panic 24 hours a day and she now has a smile. She was silent until the age of 7 and she now has words. Her speech is not close to that of a typical 14 year old but she is able to talk. That alone feels like a miracle to me that I will always treasure! Jordyn now says the words I waited so long to hear… “I love you.”
Watching Jordyn struggle with the challenges autism brings has been the most painful experience I’ve ever faced. I admire her strength, determination and attitude towards life even on her most difficult days. Jordyn is a superhero in every way!
See a video about this #autismsuperhero