Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One moment in time...

And yes, I have Whitney Houston playing on my blog. Because I'm cheeky that way. No really, it's a joke.




So much can change in the course of one day.

Even one moment.

Today my bestest friend got on offer for representation. I’m not sure if that’s the right terminology but I do know that’s a really big deal. This is Myra’s dream coming true. She quit her job and everything she was doing and said, “that’s it, I’m going to write a book.” And write she did. Today that dream became a reality. I’m so thankful I got to be a part of this journey with her, one of the lucky few she let read even the really ugly early copies (according to her, not me, I always loved it). And today I got to be there when she got the news. It was a great moment. One that I will never forget. Funny how life can change so fast. Yesterday she was “someone who wrote a book,” and today is she is a breath away from, “author.”

When I was pregnant with both of my boys, my biggest fear was coming home from the hospital without a baby. I never gave much thought to things that could go wrong LATER. Especially as a first time mom my primary focus was getting the baby OUT and getting the baby HOME. So you bring home your little bundle of joy and the fun begins. Every little tiny breath your baby makes is the most exciting thing in your life. Every time your baby looks at you, laughs at you…the first smile…first step, first words, and so on.

But what if your baby never actually does any of those things? I mean, he looks fine from the outside. The doctor is telling you everything is ok and he’s a doctor so he has to be right, right? But why in your heart of hearts and gut of guts do you just know something is off? I mean you made it to one year and the baby is still breathing so that’s a good sign you’ve done something right? Isn’t it?

Here comes one of those moments.

I’ll never forget this as long as I live. As I think about it, it’s like I’m transported right back. As if in a movie, when the camera zooms way in really fast and zeroes in on the main character’s face ~ that’s me. Luke is about 16 months old….one night Jeff and I are sitting at the dining room table. He’s working on his laptop, I’m thumbing through a magazine. I stop at one of those “Dear Dr.” articles and start to read… “Dear Doctor, one of my friends suggested that my son has autism! I don’t know what to do!” And “Dear Doctor” writes back, “if you can answer yes to 3 of these 10 questions, then your child may have autism and you should see your health care professional immediately.”

I answered yes to all ten questions.

Does your child fail to respond to his or her name? Does your child avoid making eye contact with you? Does your child appear not to hear you? Does your child avoid being held or cuddled? Does your child seem to be unaware of others' feeling or emotions and prefer to play alone? Does your child perform repetitive movements, such as rocking? Does your child become bothered with small changes in their routine? Does your child appear to be unusually sensitive to their environment through light, sound and touch? Has your child developed specific routines that are easily identified? Does your child point to desired objects?

All of a sudden, our dreams changed.

I cried when they diagnosed Luke with “ECDD” (code for “we know something is wrong, we just don’t know what), But what needs to be understood is that I never, ever cried for me. I cried for him. I cried because I didn’t want life to be even harder than it already is for him. I cried because I thought, “He’ll never lead a normal life.” (ha ha) So I started to dream that Luke could have those things. I started to dream and fight for ways that we could actually make life easier for him. Now, instead of dreaming your child will someday go to Harvard or become a doctor, you dream that your child will speak. You dream that your child will look at you. “I’m his mother for f$%k’s sake, why doesn’t the child even LOOK AT ME?” (I actually said to the pediatrician at some point: I have the general feeling that Luke doesn’t care whether *I* live or die, as long as someone brings him a bottle.) Suddenly you dream that your child will be able to point at a desired object….when up until that moment you didn’t even realize that was something you SHOULD care about.

Suddenly, the really LITTLE things became big dreams.

Today was Luke’s last day of preschool. He spent 2 years at the early childhood program at Longview Elementary. I could write 100 pages about how much I love those women. He has one “teacher” (they are all teachers!), 2 aides, a speech pathologist, and an occupational therapist. Every single one of those women are like his mom away from mom. I owe them my life, they gave me my son back. Enough with the crying already!

My point is…. Today my dream came true, too. Today Luke accomplished a really huge goal. 3 years ago Luke’s therapist in Michigan told me that I was making a HUGE mistake sending Luke to school. That Luke would get “lost in the shuffle,” that he would end up in a corner playing alone. That we would lose all of the progress we had made up until that point. But sometimes, when you are reaching for a dream, you need to take a risk. You need to put yourself out there and take a chance. And we took a chance. We believed in Luke and he more than rose to the occasion. Even one year ago I would have NEVER said that Luke would be ready for kindergarten at this point. But guess what? He’s ready. What a difference a year can make. A day can make… a moment.

Does your child fail to respond to his or her name? NO! Does your child avoid making eye contact with you? NO, NO, NO! Does your child appear not to hear you? NO! Does your child avoid being held or cuddled? Not by me! Does your child seem to be unaware of others' feeling or emotions and prefer to play alone? Not on your life!!! Does your child perform repetitive movements, such as rocking? Nope! Does your child become bothered with small changes in their routine? Sometimes Does your child appear to be unusually sensitive to their environment through light, sound and touch? Once in awhile but we know how to manage it now (popcorn and icee = trip to target!) Has your child developed specific routines that are easily identified? Yep, and I have some too! Does your child point to desired objects? Please, that’s so 3 years ago!

Being at Luke’s party today, watching him play and interact and converse and look people in the eye and point and initiate and engage….. is truly a moment I will never ever forget. A life changing moment.

Phew! What a big day we ALL had! Congratulations Myra McEntire for taking a risk and achieving the dream. And kudos to you, Mr. Luke Schmidt ~ you're on your way!

Your dreams come true when you act to turn them into realities. Anonymous

6 comments:

Myra said...

1. I had to turn down Whitney Houston. Yeesh.

2. I'm crying again.

3. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY LUKE!!!!!!!!

4. I'm going to keep flirting and winking and teasing until *I* get my very own hug from Luke. And THAT will be one million times better than the possibility of landing on any best seller list out there.

5. Remember when I told you to blog? ;-)

Leigh and Andy said...

I was crying in the middle and had goosebumps at the end! :) I've said this before...SB and autism are so different, yet in a weird way, very similar. I love hearing about your journey with Luke. Thank you so much for sharing it! and most importantly...WAY TO GO LUKE!!!!! :)

Jenny said...

Seriously, every post makes me cry. I love the blog and now I've got to read Myra's book. It'll be great to say, "My friend is friend's with the author of this book." I remember what a hard time you had when Luke was little. So glad things are looking up. Keep the posts coming, I just bought a case of Kleenex today so I should be good.

April said...

I might stop blogging if y'all don't stop crying! Sheesh! Leigh and Jenny...someday I will blog about you both. How you were there for me so much during the hard "colicky" (we didn't know better) times. Jenny you had 18 kids of your own and you would still take Luke with a smile on your face. You have no.idea. what that meant to me. Crap. Now I'm crying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

C.J. Redwine said...

Oh, wow. *hugs you* What a huge day for Luke. You must be so full of pride and joy, it's overflowing.

I'm a huge advocate for parents trusting their own instincts with their kids, doing their own research, and blazing the trail they think is best to give their kids the best possible chance of reaching their dreams. Sometimes that looks like flaunting conventional wisdom but someone has to do it, right? I'm so thrilled for Luke. (and for you!)

Can't wait to meet you!

Renae said...

I too love reading your blog! Oh, what an amazing journey you've had with Luke. I am SO HAPPY for you and proud of Luke for the huge strides he has made. I remember reading a list VERY similar to the one you listed...and answering YES to at least half of the questions (if not a bit more) when Drake was almost two. Now I can say NO to all but ONE (sensory....covering the ears). Our boys are not the same little boys they were two years ago....they've come along way. Drake remains a VERY "quirky" little man....I think he always will be and WOULD I EVER WANT TO CHANGE THAT?....HELL NO! :) I love his quirky ways and the kid is HAPPY. The child that didn't respond to his name, didn't talk, and seemed lost in space so much of the time is happy. Sounds like the same for LUKE! What else can we ask for? Life is good.

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