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The Spectrum of Life

The Spectrum of Life

When my son Preston was two, I began to notice delays in his verbal development. Other children his age could say at least a few basic words, but my son still hadn’t started uttering even “mama” or “dada”. Mostly he would only make babbling sounds. I voiced my concerns with his pediatrician, who recommended a review by Early Childhood Intervention. I took time off work to attend the many appointments and examinations that followed, knowing how important it was to get some answers for my little boy. Soon, we received a diagnosis: Preston was on the autism spectrum.

Although I didn’t fully understand what autism entailed, it became my highest priority to learn more. I quickly became both concerned and frustrated with accepting this new reality. I felt like breaking down and questioned what I had been told. Also, according to, “Nearly two-thirds of children with autism are bullied between the ages of 6 and 15.” I feared how other children would treat him or how severe his challenges would be.

Over time, with increased acceptance of the facts presented to me, I was better able to devote my full attention to the task at hand, which was helping my son. I took advantage of the resources I had available to me and was very productive during my time away from work. My husband and I attended seminars and studied exactly what autism is and how to help my child. I learned that the quicker I can accept this new challenge, the sooner I can begin to fight for his rights as a child with special needs. My husband and I met with state representatives to ensure that Preston’s courses are tailored to his needs and goals are being met. We found great benefit from learning how to navigate and understand a different part of the health care field.

I started to learn how to help special-needs children express themselves in different ways. No two people are the same, even within the same diagnosis, and knowing this helps me identify the uniqueness of each person and their needs. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be the mother of such a special boy. He has helped shape me to this person I am today, helping me grow not only personally but also professionally. I now understand that all people are on a spectrum – the spectrum of life.

I now understand that all people are on a spectrum – the spectrum of life.

We must all learn who we are and what makes us special, and a child with special needs is no different than any other special child placed on this earth. As adults we often see children as blessings and forget that they become our peers and associates. We worry within our own battles and then overlook the challenges others face. This makes it so important to be compassionate and understanding. This chapter of my life and the experiences I’ve had have helped me understand how to interact with others, including employees and colleagues within my businesses, and consider their best interests.

During this chapter of my life, I’ve developed greater intellectual courage, perseverance, and autonomy. All three qualities are intertwined. To develop intellectual perseverance, you must have intellectual courage. I had to accept this new life that I hadn’t planned, with no time for denial, and accept the challenges and conversations that followed, no matter how uncomfortable I may have been.

It would have been easier to ignore the diagnosis and move forward, ignoring the concerning signs in my son’s development. However, once I accepted his diagnosis, I then set out to know exactly what our challenges would be and prepare to face them for the benefit of my child. This process helped me to grow mentally and personally as I learned to think for myself and not seek the opinions of others who may not have acquired the same level of research. For example, my family struggled with Preston’s diagnosis as well, and they thought it would help me if they continuously said that the doctors must be wrong, but ultimately these comments frustrated me. I quickly realized that I do know what’s best for my child, and I can always depend on myself and my life experiences to help determine the best path forward.

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