Posts Tagged ‘Autism Miracle’

By Shannon Penrod

Today was the fourth anniversary of my child officially being diagnosed with Autism.  People frequently ask me why I compulsively capitalize the word “autism”; I don’t believe in underestimating the enemy, trust me – Autism deserves a capital A.  Four years,  it doesn’t seem possible.  In some ways it seems like yesterday, in other ways that grey day in January 2006 seems at least 100 years ago.  It was a watershed day, a day when things came into sharp focus and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had a new mission.  I would rather have a mission than be in limbo any day of the week.

I remember driving away from the Drs. office.  A lovely elderly developemental pediatrician had spent hours with my child, testing him and taking lenghty notes, then she abruptly stood up and announced she was done.  She started to leave the room, I stopped her and asked her if there was a diagnosis. ” Autism.” she said.  Trust me on the capital letter. Then in an effort to soften the blow she told me to be grateful, 50 years earlier she assured me that my beautiful baby boy would be institutionalized for life.  She assured me there was hope, but made me promise that I would not do ABA therapy with my son.  She promised me it would turn him into a robot.  I was horrified.  I promised (A promise I broke, thankfully) and I went out to the car with my husband and my happy little boy who no longer talked or answered when you called his name.  I told my husband it was time to go public and tell our freinds and family.  We had suspected Autism for a while, but we said nothing.  Now I needed to circle the wagons.  We were in for the fight of our lives and I knew it.

I called my mother first.  When I told her she burst into tears saying, “No, not our baby!  Not Jem!”  It was the perfect thing to say because it was exactly what I wanted to say and couldn’t.  Because she was saying it I was free to feel the real answer. I calmly told her that Jem was the exact same child he had been the day before, but now we knew what to do to help him.  I said it and then I realized it was the truth. 

In four years we have come a long way.  Thank GOD for ABA therapy!  Thank GOD that Peter and Crystal Sheppard came into our lives and showed us the miracle of ABA in their home. (By the way they are also FABULOUS Realtors here in Santa Clarita. If you need a Realtor I personally HIGHLY reccommend them!)  Thank GOD for CARD (The Center for Autism and Related Disorders) and for Peter Farag (our personal Autism Whisperer) and thank GOD for the never ending army of therapists who have helped to bring our child back to us.

Jem is excelling in a typical lst grade class.  He is a social butterfly and has more friends than I can keep track of.  He demonstrates empathy, asks meaningful questions and plans to be a rocket scientist!  He lies to keep out of trouble, thinks Spongebob is hilarious and asks me even a year later if Jett Travolta’s sister is okay after his untimely death.  Does that sound like a robot to you?  Not me!

In the last four years we have met a wide variety of Doctors, Teachers, Social Workers and friends whose expectations for our son didn’t jive with ours.  We politely ignored them and chose repeatedly to surround ourselves with people and professionals who were willing to see what was possible.  Four years later, I’m really grateful we did.

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