You were diagnosed with autism when you were four years old. I didn’t know what this meant for you, for us. I was devastated, terrified, relieved, and hopeful, all at once. At least, now we knew why you were having the difficulties you were having and could give you the support you needed. The doctor told us that autism was a life-long condition that had no cure, but there were some things we could do to help you.
So it began, years of intensive behavior therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy. You went through hell in the beginning. You wondered why we were putting you through what we were putting you through. You felt hurt, betrayed, lost, and confused. I questioned everything we were doing for you. Were we doing the right thing? Were we helping you or harming you? Was this worth the pain you were going through?
Then, slowly but surely, we started seeing a difference. We started seeing you cross one hurdle after another. You were more comfortable, more confident, more in control of the environment around you. You were doing well at home and at school. You had always been very intelligent. You excelled in academics now that you were better equipped to deal with the environment around you. The teachers couldn’t stop talking about how brilliant you were. You always came first in class. You finished your assignments in half the time it took the other students to finish them. You were way ahead of the rest of the class in terms of your knowledge of all the subjects. You displayed an integrity of character well beyond your age.
As you grew older, you started finding it difficult to handle the increasingly complex social dynamics at school, and started withdrawing from the world around you. You asked me why you were not like the other children. You asked me why you found it difficult to do the things that the other children could do easily. I told you that everybody had something that they were good at and something that they were not so good at, but you weren’t convinced. You were too intelligent not to realize that there was more to it.
I knew, then, that you needed to know about your autism. You were ten years old at the time. I was apprehensive about telling you that you had autism, but your response when I told you about it laid any fears I had to rest. You were extremely grateful and relieved on learning about your autism. You thanked me profusely for telling you about it because now you understood why you were the way you were, why you did the things you did, why you felt the way you felt, and you didn’t feel bad about it anymore, you didn’t feel like you weren’t good enough or weren’t trying hard enough. You realized that it wasn’t your fault and it was like a load had been lifted from your shoulders. You blossomed from that point onward.
Eventually, it was clear that the rigid framework of conventional schooling wasn’t working for you, so we decided to home-school you. It was one of the best decisions we made for you.
Your journey has not been an easy one, but it has been one of strength, courage, and indomitable human spirit. You make me proud of you every single day through your resilience, your perseverance, your spirit, your strength, your courage, your integrity, your empathy, your clarity, your intelligence and so much more. You are and always will be my hero.