He my second of three children. He loves music, he has the most beautiful singing voice, he has a memory like no one else I know and he's super smart, has been reading since he was four years old.
Last year, Christopher was diagnosed with Asperger's Disorder.
It wasn't a surprise for us. What was a surprise was that someone finally listened to me. Christopher has had some struggles since he was just a little baby. At first, it was just some motor delays. He was late to sit, crawl and walk. Not crazy late, but enough to make this paranoid mama ask some questions. He made every milestone, just a bit later than he should. Luckily for all of us, my paranoia got him involved in an early intervention program, and at 18 months when he still wasn't really talking, we jumped right in with more services. He has received speech, physical therapy, and occupational therapy since age one. He was in a developmental play group at age two. At age three he was placed in an intensive language early childhood program. Five days a week, full day. From age three. It nearly killed me. I hated having him away from me so much at such a young age. I was scared for him. I missed him. How was I supposed to trust strangers to take care of him and understand him the way I could. He wasn't really talking, I wasn't sure how much he would understand. Did he even understand what was going on? Was he going to be scared or miss me?
I knew in my head that this was the right thing to do. Not once did I worry about labels or what other people would think. I wanted to get him as much help as possible. It was more than I could do on my own. The people who worked with him then are still good friends today. They took care of him as if he was their own. I can never, ever thank them enough.
And Christopher, well, he is thriving. He is a strong, brave little boy. Every single transition he has made he has sailed through with only a few bumps. Things that were so difficult for him don't even phase him now. His language development has helped him be able to express his feelings, and tell us what's bothering him so we can help him through it. He's been asked to birthday parties, playdates. He's starting to know himself, he's starting to understand what it means to try hard, to work through something, and how good it feels to get to the other side. I'm so very proud of him, and even better, he's proud of himself.
Everyone who knows him talks of what a happy boy he is. So full of joy, you can't help but love him.
This is one of my favorite pictures of him, from our first Disney trip, almost three years ago. This is when he really started to blossom, his language exploded during this trip. Kids with Aspergers develop really strong interests in things, and luckily for me, my kid LOVES Disney. When we took him for the first time we were really nervous, it's major sensory overload. He was awesome, tried every ride without a second thought, made his first airplane ride without a hitch. He loves to travel, this kid. We have this secret plan to run off and get jobs in Walt Disney World someday.
I know how fortunate I am. The autism spectrum is a wide one. Things are difficult sometimes, but really could be so much more. I am thankful. Autism affects 1 in 110 children. 1 in 70 are boys. Today is World Autism Awareness Day. Be aware, be understanding, be kind. Get involved.
Love you so much, buddy.