January 13, 2014

Behind Closed Doors

Posted in Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , at 2:10 pm by autismmommytherapist

J Horse 1

I enter through unyielding school doors with a rush of wind at my back, and as always I am struck by the peaceful atmosphere that reigns in this school for moderate to severe autistic children. I am here to pick up my eldest son to take him to the neurologist, and as usual am compulsively early, so I tell the secretary not to call down for him yet.

I use my extra minutes to have an impromptu conversation with Justin’s principal, assure him all is well, am assured of the same in return. I realize I’d better collect my kid if I want to make our appointment, and the secretary graciously notifies his teacher I am here as I sign him out.

I wait a few seconds, then I hear it- a long, joyful “eee” shouted high to the hilltops, and I am certain Justin has been told of my presence. A few moments later he comes bounding out of the room, rushing down the hallway with his teacher in tow. As usual he is thrilled to see me, leans his head in for a kiss, then grabs my hand and immediately tries to propel me out the door.

Usually, mommy equates with fun. I’m not so certain he’ll feel that way after I tell him where we’re going.

I have a quick dialogue with his beloved teacher and we’re off, me holding onto Justin for dear life in the parking lot, keeping an eye out for oncoming cars all the while. I settle him in, reprogram my trusty and all-so-necessary GPS and exit onto the street, still confident I can make the appt. on time.

If I’m schlepping my kid across Jersey for two hours, I want to make sure he sees that doctor.

I relax into my seat as well and think back upon that warm welcome I received from my son. I remember back to a time almost ten years ago when I was told by a professional that since Justin had been diagnosed as a toddler, he could yet experience a regression as he entered his third year, one that might involve a lessening of emotional ties. I recall being frozen with fear because despite the severity of my son’s diagnosis, we have always been close.

At that point in his life Justin was generally miserable, plagued with sleep problems, gastrointestinal distress, and frequent illnesses despite the fact he was rarely around other children. Still, even on his worst days I could eventually cajole a smile out of him, and sometimes his elusive and longed-for laughter would peal around the room. I couldn’t stand the thought that things could get worse. I particularly couldn’t bear the thought that the close relationship we had forged could fray, or end up in tatters.

Fortunately, for us the strong bond we had built only became more solid.

I look in the rearview mirror to see my son rocking out to Adele (between all the therapists and activities, I spend a lot of time in the car with my kids), and smile. There were so many fears I had ten years ago that have since been allayed. I feared we’d never communicate with one another, but then my son mastered PECs and later the iPad.

I worried he’d never sleep through the night and by extension I never would either, which fortunately proved itself false. I was deeply concerned I’d never get him to like any activity outside of our house, which through trial and lots of error eventually became untrue.

Most of all however I feared that loss of love, which considering how many times he kisses me daily, happily never came to pass. We adore each other. And despite the severity of his autism, he manages to convey that love without words, with a conviction and a confidence that I never take for granted.

I have to remind myself of this when I start perseverating about his future ten years from now.  So many of my deepest fears never came to pass, and so many of my hopes for Justin have been realized. Fear and worry have never been my friends.

Hope and action are.



  1. Your bond with Justin is so strong. You never cease to amaze me, mesmerize me with your stories and your unfailing hope and action. You are my role model. Shine On!

  2. Love it! So glad I found you.

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