I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.
Jeannie Langston's story is one that hits home for many families. Despite all the media attention and more accurate diagnoses of the last decade or so, the causes and treatments for autism remain largely a mystery. Read about this mother's journey and feel free to share your own.
I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son. He came home from the hospital so perfect. After spending a week in intensive care, it was so good to feel him in my arms. Joshua was a little over a month early, but that didn't stop him from meeting his milestones.
He sat up, smiled, rolled over, stood, and even knew all his alphabet by the time he was two years old. Then something happened. I'm not sure what happened, I can't even pinpoint a date when it happened. I just know that it happened. At first he just seemed distracted and distant, then it got worse.
Joshua was a year old, he had taken his first steps and he was giggling. That's how I want to remember him. His big brown eyes so bright and alert, staring into my eyes. The big hugs he gave me when he finally reached me.
I miss my son.
He was two and a half or three years old when I really felt him leaving me. He had good days and then he had days that were not so good. Joshua wouldn't look into my eyes any more, he didn't want to hug me or hold my hand or kiss my cheek. He didn't like to be touched at all and he would scream when anyone tried to touch him. Joshua forgot his alphabet and he hardly spoke at all. When he did, it was one word at a time. "Food" or "Drink" or something else that was simple. He used to say complete sentences.
We saw so many doctors, they kept referring us to other specialists, nobody could tell me what was wrong with my son. Joshua was physically perfect. Finally, we were referred to a psychologist. She had an answer for us. Autism. There was no cure and there was no definitive cause for it. There were treatments that showed improvements, according to studies in obscure magazines and medical books. Each case was different so each treatment was tailored to the child, the psychologist told us.
I attended a few support groups, while my husband stayed home in denial. I kept getting the same answer from all the other parents. The treatments help, but it doesn't bring the kids back. They will have some problems for the rest of their lives and no amount of treatments or therapies can change that.
Forgive this tear stained letter. I just was not expecting to lose him so soon after getting him. He's only four years old, and I had to say goodbye to him a year and a half ago. It's hard to have him physically here, but not be able to be a part of his world, and not be able to have him in my world.
Jeannie Langston has a Bachelor's Degree in Social Science with a Concentration in English and Language Arts, and an Associate's Degree in English. She is a member of Golden Key International Honour Society. This is her fifth year judging the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards and she has participated and won Nanowrimo for the last 5 years.