Dear Mr. Neurologist
(Hello friends, for those of you just joining my journey, normally I share from how God is shaping my soul. However, in April, I am going to share a few writings from my heart as a special needs mom in support of Autism Awareness month, for surely special needs have been among God’s warmest ways of shaping me. Below, please find a blog I first posted May 5, 2015 in honor of my eldest’s graduation. At the end, I’ll offer an update on his college journey.)
Dear Mr. Neurologist,
I know you were trying to be realistic. I know you were trying to spare us unnecessary expense. I know you were doing your job. And I know you were certain that your counsel was true.
15 years ago, my husband and I sat with you in a little room for 15 minutes. We brought to you our precious son with concerns about developmental delays. You gave him direct commands for 10 minutes, clearly saw his inability to respond and connect, and then accurately announced, “You son has autism.” While we sat there in stunned silence, you continued, “You’ll hear of diets, detoxes, and alternative therapies and they are a waste of time, money, and energy. There’s nothing you can do.”
“There’s nothing you can do.”
I wanted to write you last year to let you know that the two-year old you saw 14 years earlier received his driver’s license at the age of 16—with 100% on his performance exam.
But time flies, so I am writing you now to let you know that the two-year old you saw 15 years ago is graduating today from high school at the age of 17 after passing his HISET with flying colors. And his next step is to begin college with rather remarkable giftings in animation, programming, and video editing and with his perfect pitch, near perfect rhythm, and craving to learn.
Yes, he will need a support network for the next step. And yes, Barry and I spent a truckload of money getting here on evaluations, therapies, and diets. He has been in speech therapy, music therapy, occupational therapy, behavior cognitive therapy, and social skills therapy. He has seen psychologists, educators, naturopaths, chiropractors, brain mapping specialists, allergy doctors, and perhaps half a dozen or more neurologists who, like you, were excellent in their trade. He has gone gluten-free and dye-free and organic. He has downed countless supplements and absorbed hundreds of hours of tutoring.
And yes, he has wept over his differences and melted down over life’s loudness. And emerged as a man with a golden heart.
This letter is to you, but I will take the space to thank others.
Today I thank my son for being among the most courageous and pure souls I have ever known. Today I thank my extraordinary husband who lives out his profound calling of dad with love, grace, and humor. Today I thank my angel Mom who has devoted her life to serving me and my tribe. Today I thank our family and friends who have prayed and believed and supported us in every way imaginable. Today I thank my son’s teachers and tutors and therapists who have listened and learned and led. Today I thank his pastors and peers who have made a special place to champion a special soul.
And I want to thank you too, Mr. Neurologist, for what you sincerely got right and for what you sincerely got wrong.
I thank you for where you were correct: my son is on the spectrum. Your certainty sent us in the right direction. And I thank you additionally for where you, without malice, erred: telling me there was nothing I could do.
I can love.
I can believe.
I can pray.
I can hug.
I can weep.
I can stand.
I can fight.
And I will, while I have breath, for my boy.
(Posted with my son’s permission, who said, “I love it, Mom. Post it!”)
(And the update: Jonathan is in his second semester at Missouri State University. The first semester was like climbing Mount Everest as far as his learning curve in adjusting to college life. But climb he did! He’s growing by leaps and bounds and we are beyond grateful for the village that is helping him and helping us stretch toward his dreams.)