My Dear Girl,
From the minute I found out I was going to be a parent, I swore to protect you, nurture you and love you unconditionally. It was now my job to make sure you made it out of childhood alive and that you would be taught the necessary tools to live.
No one ever said it was going to be easy. This parenting thing. When I first felt you kick while reading all the books on how to be a great parent, I thought I knew what I was doing. When you made your arrival known to the world, with your audible screech, I made sure you had all your fingers and toes. I held you for the first time, nuzzled at the breast, listening to you suckle. This was the first time in my life I felt alive. I knew right then, at that moment that you were this special gift that needed me.
I made sure to write down all of your milestones. From your first smile to your first sound. I wanted you to experience the world on your own time. Revel in the delight of discovery. Your smile would light up my day. Your little giggle would be the best thing in the world. Watching you grow into this darling little girl who seem to have her own little world....
But then it stopped. It stopped when I didn't hear your little laugh and I didn't see your smile. It stopped when I saw your frustration of trying to communicate. I went back and looked through all those parenting books to see if there was something to do. There was nothing. I tried taking you to the doctor who kept telling us, " Oh, she is just a late bloomer.." A year where I went back and forth. They didn't see your struggle. They didn't understand how you tried. They didn't see my little girl retreat into her own little world that understood her. They didn't know how much it hurt my heart seeing you this way. My job to make sure you prospered was on the line. I had felt that I had failed you. When my heart couldn't take it anymore, I fought back. You deserved better.
I remember the first specialist you saw. A Speech therapist. She was kind. She had a soft look to her. She had done her testing with you. I remember the look on her face when she had said there is something beyond speech that is happening with this child. Your Daddy held my hand knowing that my heart had dropped. We knew this was just the beginning of our journey. From there you saw countless Doctors. Finally we had gotten an answer. In your own little world where things were what they were supposed to and you were just you, the reality of it is, you had Autism.
The next few years with you were a learning experience for us. You started school. And you had a wonderful ABA therapist who guided you. You found your voice again. God, I cried when I heard that little voice tell me that you wanted "Cheese" or that you were sad. I still see you struggle, but now you have your own way to tell the world who you are.
I look back at those photographs, when you lived in your world. My darling Little Miss. You always had this calm way about you, but deep down you fought. You fought hard to make your existence known. Through everything that you have had to deal with, you have come out a fighter.
What you don't realize is that, travelling with you through your journey and seeing how much you have over come, you have given me hope. You have given me hope that I need for your brother's journey with Autism. You have made me realize to never quit. You will never stop teaching people how to experience the world as you do.
When you are old enough to venture out, I hope you find this. I hope you realize just how special you are. Not because of the diagnosis that was given to you, but because you are just one of thousands of unique humans to graces us with your existence.