I will always remember that day. It was Oct. 10th 2003, Alexis was exactly 18 months old. Trying to find more answers than what our pediatrician told us as “developmental delay and she would out grow it”, we took Alexis to see a developmental pediatrician at the LADDERS program in Massachusetts General Hospital. Within ten minutes of examining Alexis, this doctor said nonchalantly: ”Yes, she is autistic. But I will give her a diagnosis of PDDNOS for now as she is so young and we don’t know what her prognosis is. Your life will be different from now on…” and the rest was a blur.
Indeed, our life has never been the same again. It is a life full of orchestrating various therapies for Alexis. I often found myself chairing meetings of up to eight to ten therapists, teachers and school administrators, and we were all there discussing Alexis’ progress. Our family life is no longer a family of four but a family with many therapists coming and going, some of them are truly amazing. We are grateful to all of them. It is a life with a child mentally stuck as a toddler for many years to come. We learn to be much more patient and tolerant than before. We learn to cope with the stress that we never had to deal with before. We learn to ignore other patrons’ comments at restaurants, other passengers’ stare on airplanes… We learn to stand up for her right. We learn to keep out hope alive. We are forever hoping to hear that first word, if not this year, maybe next year, or the next… On the other hand, whenever Alexis flashes that big smile at us, whenever she gives us a big hug, comes to us for cuddling, for rough play, for seeking deep pressure, we forget how little she could do, how dependent she is on us, we laugh with her together. We are grateful that our love to her and her love to us keeps our family strong and together.
Ching and Mathew, parents of Alexis
South Pasadena, CA