By Rachel, Wesley's mom
When he was 18 months old, I began to notice my son, Wesley, standing about an inch away from license plates, studying the numbers and letters. At the park, he was mesmerized with the playground rules sign, and I have many pictures of him studying a "Lifeguard Not on Duty" sign at our neighborhood pool. We thought it was quirky … amusing, even.
There were other signs, of course. Individually, these signs meant very little, but when we added them together, there were bigger implications. I remember the day I started to put it all together. As I Googled, my fears morphed into potential reality and the tears began to fall.
At age 2, Wesley was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at Marcus Autism Center. I was devastated. I wish I could go back and tell that terrified mom that it was going to be OK and that the devastation she felt would soon be replaced with bravery. But she'd have to take that journey on her own.
While autism is a spectrum, the love of a parent with a child who has autism is not a spectrum. The trajectory of all of our children's lives has to be their own. That journey may look extraordinary. It may look ordinary. That journey may look strange or sad to others. But whatever form it takes, the potential to do great things is not something that can be measured by anyone. On the day Wesley was diagnosed, I was told to not put any limits on what my little boy could do. I'm glad I followed that advice.
We've now participated in a research study, taken advantage of several educational classes with our extended family and are beginning our journey as students of the Language and Learning Program. Our little family has come so far. I hate to think about where we would be right now had it not been for Marcus Autism Center.
If you have stumbled upon this story because your child was recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, know that there is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel you’ve just entered—and it’s closer than you think.