Eleanor Roosevelt wrote “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”  I think she is right, because most folks don’t pursue dreams that they find hideous or malevolent.  This is one of the harder parts of our little journey, and it got really dark before the light started coming back again. 

In the middle of our darkness, two large family events occurred.  One was meeting my daughter, who I will not discuss here as I have not talked with her about this or gotten her permission.  Short form is this: I met my 16 year old daughter for the first time when Raymond was 2, so right in the middle of this we had those family issues to deal with. It was tough, and we handled some things well and some things poorly, and that’s where I’m going to leave that for the purposes of this blog.

The second major hit was my wife was diagnosed with panic disorder.  I’m not going to delve too deeply into that either, because I haven’t really talked to her about publishing this, but we had to really restructure our lives and change many of our methods to help relieve stress on her and create a haven in our home.  Without getting too specific, we had to learn how to come together in a crisis instead of attacking each other.  I can state for an absolute fact that if we hadn’t learned how to do this, we would be divorced today.

I mention this last part because my wife’s panic disorder ironically ended up helping us in a major way.  It introduced her to her therapist, who is now our therapist.  I highly recommend therapy for those of you that can afford it and are going through this.  Not necessarily for the “magical psychology fix” that people seem to expect from therapists.  Mainly because it is helpful to have a third party hear what you are going through and reinforce that it is terrible, it is difficult, and you are doing the right thing.  Also, having a referee to help sort out tougher issues is really a good way to get some positive dialogue on an emotional subject.  We have been seeing him for over 2 years now, and it has really helped us keep the lines of communication open.

I finally started to wake up from my funk about October 2006.  We first heard the word autism in February 2006, and I had been researching furiously since then.  We had managed to implement some changes for Raymond in spite of my denial, and a big part of that came from another accidental discovery.  Raymond came down with a nasty rotavirus in late spring of 2006, and ended up in the hospital due to starvation and dehydration.  He literally could not eat or drink without throwing up.  Once we got out of the hospital, our pediatrician told us to double his dose of probiotic.  We did, and we got more language and more eye contact!  That’s when I started considering the possibility that biomedical intervention might help him.

I also have to credit my wife during this time.  She never gave up, and approached the subject from every different angle imaginable to help me see.  She was researching as much as me, and through that learning I finally began to figure out what was wrong with Raymond.  We got in some pretty nasty fights, and those who know me can attest to my acerbic wit.  However, by October I was ready to step out of the darkness and help move Raymond into the light.

The funny thing about it is how much better I felt after accepting things.  It took some time to understand that the end of my expectations was not the end of my family. I understand now that there is always a future, and in most cases it will have surprises, some pleasant and some unpleasant.   However, I am happier now that I accept my son’s condition as a part of his life.  Autism is a part of my son, but not his all. Some people can only see that limitation, but thanks to what I have been through I see only possibility.