My name is Christina and I am going to tell you about my son Sam and our journey with autism. When I first received Sam‘s diagnosis he was about 3 years old and I was devastated. I immediately had negative assumptions about what type of life he would live and that he would have a very limited future. Every mother believes that the sky has no limit for her children, and for a time until I could fully grasp what Autism meant for us, that belief was diminished for me.
During the next few years I dove into the world of advocating for my son. The ins and outs of navigating the school system for a child with special needs is daunting to say the least. As a single mother, I have tried my best to make sure Sam has had everything he needs educationally, socially, mentally, and physically. One of the biggest struggles he has faced throughout his school career has been fitting in with his peers on a social level and making real solid friendship connections. This year he has turned a corner and his social progress has been huge! One of the bigger accomplishments he has experienced thus far is that he was voted to be the class representative for the student council by his peers! His dedication to Basketball has also been instrumental for his growth, teaching him many new social skills, and has brought on new friendships as well. His dream is to be a marine biologist and for anyone who knows him personally this will warm your heart to know that he still has a secret love for sharks, as he did when he was a small child.
One huge lesson I have learned along the way is that we are never given more than we can handle, and I know in my heart I was meant to be Sam’s mom. This journey has been such a learning curve for the both of us! As I teach him to grow and thrive he teaches me so much about patience and compassion. I’m present with him, supporting him, and experiencing all of the small victories like I never did before. As we have evolved together it’s clear to me now that Sam has a very bright future ahead, and the sky again has no limit.
Sam is one of the most amazing, kindest, and funniest people I know. Just the other day he told me that it feels good to him to be nice to people. The key for me is teaching Sam that all people are different. I talk to him about the difficulties I experience in my personal life to give him examples of how people handle bumps in the road, and to show him that we all have struggles. We have been on this path for 7 years now, and my feelings toward Sam’s diagnosis have changed. Yes, my son has Autism and it is a part of him and a part of our lives forever but is doesn’t define him. He is so much more than Autism. We have our ups and downs just like everyone else, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. At the end of the day I’m the lucky one in all of this because Sam has made me a better person. He makes everyone he knows so very proud every single day.