In Her Own Words
I’m the proud mother of 2 kids, Ava and Cooper. Both received an autism diagnosis at two and a half years old (Ava 2019, Cooper 2021). Ava appeared to reach age appropriate, developmental milestones up until age 2, but shortly after her birthday, we began to notice regression in multiple areas. Cooper had a similar path but his regression began around age 1, which was also the beginning of the pandemic shut down. While he did not regress as significantly as his sister, he began to stop reaching milestones on time and was deficient in multiple areas developmentally.
In the beginning after Ava’s diagnosis, I reached out to friends and family with knowledge about autism, therapies, and “next steps” and was overwhelmed to say the least. All of this came while trying to deal with fears of the unknown but still trying to gain as much knowledge about autism that I could. We were faced with so many obstacles - only a few therapists were taking new clients, most waitlists for services were 1 – 3 years (some longer,) insurance denials and limited coverage, and the closest clinics were over 100 miles away. It felt like a huge mountain was in front of us that just wouldn’t budge. I felt hopeless, helpless, and lonely…. But then, God stepped in. Doors began to open for Ava to get the help and therapies she needed, and this made the path more clear cut for Cooper. But, we still met challenges with having 2 special needs children.
We felt like there were not many resources or support in our community to help children and families like ours. We began to share our journey of autism and offering help to other families going through a similar process. It helped us find peace in our journey by helping others navigate their way through similar circumstances who were just beginning their journey. In doing so, people we knew and people we didn’t began to reach out to us and offer tips, advice, love, support, and prayers. It became obvious that we were not alone, and our circle was much bigger than we originally thought. Teachers, therapists, and many others who have walked in similar shoes long before us offered much needed information, knowledge, and support. Through sharing our story, we met some of the most amazing people that led us to becoming part of the group that created this place, The Spot.
This group shares the same hopes and visions for our children, community, and ourselves as parents. As our group’s thoughts, ideas, hopes, and dreams have begun to come to life, I realized the years of feeling hopeless, helpless, and fearful have started to fade, too. I’ve begun to feel hopeful for an abundant life as the feeling of loneliness has departed. I’ve found my tribe, a new purpose, and a reason to continue to push for “more” for our children. That huge mountain I spoke of before…. it’s being moved!
This journey has not been without heartache and disappointments, but God has used it to restore my faith in Him and taught me to lean not on my own understanding but to trust in Him. He was there through it all and perfectly pieced together every part of the puzzle that has led us to where we are today. The phrase “beauty from ashes” comes to mind when I think of our journey, and I couldn’t imagine a different purpose for our lives.