Aaron was diagnosed with autism when he was eighteen months old. We were given the diagnosis five days before I gave birth to our second child. The words “Aaron has autism” hung so incredibly heavy in the doctor’s office that day. I can remember staring over at my boy, sitting on his dad’s lap eating goldfish and raisins, and I was completely paralyzed. Paralyzed with fear and anger; Grief and sadness. How could this be? This was not what we had planned for our son.
Stunned and gutted, I promised, in that moment, that we were going to do everything we could in our power to make sure that Aaron’s life was meaningful, fulfilling and rich. We were going to give him every opportunity that we could to be successful and have a purpose. We will never stop. We will never regret hoping too much.
Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Music Therapy, Intensive In-Home Therapy, Social Skills development, Daily Living Skills Therapy, Respite. Aaron’s done it all….usually with a smile on his face! He has worked so incredibly hard and we try to celebrate each accomplishment and achievement, no matter how small or “typical”. He’s always listening, always learning.
One of the hardest aspects of Aaron’s autism is that he does not have language. Oh what I would give to hear his secrets and dreams!!! His lack of language has proved to be frustrating - for him, for us, for his siblings. I can’t help but wonder if it’s isolating as well. Nevertheless, Aaron has found many different ways to communicate to us and to the people around him. I admire his resourcefulness, creativity, and his tenacity. He wants to be heard and his dad and I are always listening.
“Why doesn’t Aaron talk?”….The ache in my heart never lessens, no matter how many times Aaron’s brother and sister may ask us. The impact Aaron’s autism has had on his siblings sits heavy on our shoulders. As our other children get older you can see them wrestle with the confusion, frustration and hurt. I can’t think too much about the loss they have suffered. It’s too painful. What I would do for Aaron to be able to talk to his brother and sister, play with them, tease them and tell jokes….. Though he cannot communicate with words I hope that Aaron’s siblings know what we know: that Aaron deeply wants to be with his family, that his love for them is immeasurable, and that Aaron is so much more than autism. My wish for both of them is that one day, in their own time; they will understand and recognize the gifts that Aaron has brought to our family.
Aaron is pure and honest. He emotes without a filter. He loves deeply. He trusts wholeheartedly. He is not bashful, meek or timid. He is himself 100% of the time. His laugh is infectious and his heart is full. He struggles with so many things, yet is the happiest person we know. His dad and I love him more than our hearts can hold. We will always be with him. Whatever he needs we will try to be.
Every single trait I wasn’t good at I have had to develop because of Aaron- patience, confidence, calmness, flexibility. Before Aaron I lived life impatiently and measured. I was a perfectionist. Everything had to be just right. What is perfect anymore? Aaron is perfect…..perfectly Aaron. We have all learned so much from him. He has truly enriched our family’s life and taught us profound lessons in faith.
Sarah & Jesse, Aaron’s Parents