Our autism journey began in 2012 when we were living in Atlanta and had not yet moved to Boston. My husband was working a part-time job due to downsizing. I was on bed rest with our second baby, Kristen, and our oldest son, Jack, was two-years-old.
I remember driving in the car that spring trying to figure out how we were going to pay the bills, when a spotlight on autism awareness popped on the radio. One of the moms interviewed spoke about her son who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She spoke eloquently about the disorder and provided examples of some of the behaviors her son displayed. I was touched by her love, compassion, and passion for building awareness for the disorder. As I totaled up the cost of groceries for the week and thought about which bills to pay and which to juggle for another month, I thought, in true southern fashion, ‘Bless her heart. Better her than me!’
Nine months later, I sat on the floor of a pediatric neurologist’s office holding Jack tightly as he screamed and thrashed in sheer panic of the world around him. For months, I had been trying to figure out his intense behaviors which presented shortly after that radio spotlight and increased in severity day by day until he could no longer function. He screamed all day. Rocked and banged his head incessantly. Recited books and scripts meticulously. He never slept. We felt mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.
After an hour of assessment, the neurologist asked me what I believed was going on with my son. I remembered the woman on the radio and the shared behaviors that now made my son and hers brothers on a journey we did not plan.
Two months later, my husband got a job in Massachusetts and we moved up north. We didn’t know a soul, but we knew the services would change our son’s life. And they truly have.
In September of 2013, I started this blog to share our family’s journey with a child on the spectrum. Almost five years later, I realize there was a plan beyond my understanding unfolding.
Today, I continue to share our journey here on the blog, on Instagram, and Facebook. And I help special needs parents and teachers develop loving, communicative relationships with their children, students, and communities at katieemanuel.com.