#TBT: Feliz Cumpleaños, Ezri!

How did we get here? How is it I took a breath and now you’re only hours away from turning one?

So, how is it we got here, again? It started with the slip of the sono tech’s hand, where we made the discovery of a flicker, then several very scary doctor visits where we thought we’d lost you…but tada! you fooled us.  We had a stumble (where I broke my ankle), and then a few weeks in bed watching Netflix and eating Ramen noodles. And as I pushed myself on a scooter (cause a pregnant woman should not have to swing herself on crutches), I found an inner strength in me I was afraid I didn’t have. And then, four days later than expected, you came.

All I wanted was to hold you so I could truly believe you were here. Just a few months prior, I thought I’d have to live with holes in my heart at the thought of losing you was all but certain. But alas, there you were…and as angry as I wanted to be a God for the series of tragic events which happened before your arrival, all I could so was weep with happiness at how utterly complete my heart and home felt with your arrival. There is no more room for bitterness. You’re sweet soul has pushed it all out of my heart.

Thank you, mi’ja. For saving your mommy from the depths of her depression. Thank you for giving your brothers their mommy back. Thank you for holding on, even when all the odds were stacked against you. Thank you for being you; my sweet, smart, sassy, and silly Ezri-bean.

You’re one year down, with many more to go, but you’ve got a head start on us all. This world is tough, but then, so are you. You didn’t care the odds were against you, that science would try to outweigh faith and hope-you wanted to be here so badly, I can’t wait to see how you change it.

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Feliz cumpleanos mi nina hermosa ❤

 

 

 

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Maximus The Great: Normal Day

Being the parent of a special needs child would be so much easier if the world wasn’t full of reminders that you’re kid, and thus your life are different or wrong, or sick, etc.

DISCLAIMER: This is not a pity post. I know my boy is beyond amazing. The smartest person in this house with the personality of a King, or Giant, or some fascinating person you’ve only ever read about. But I need to keep it real

All of that “he’s so great” or “he’s a genius” stuff doesn’t come to mind when I’m wiping up a kicking and screaming almost 4 year old’s poop and trying not to get it on my outfit. Or getting punched or bitten because I just want to put his shoes on so we can make it to school on time and I can’t yell at him because it will only make things worse and his older brother is trying to get my attention because he’s doing something really cute, and Oh God my phone is at 1% and it’s 6:45 AM, and why the hell is the TV so loud…must stay calm and use this as a teachable moment to set precedent…that’s what the doctor said to do right? And oh crap, we’re way over the prescribed 10 hours of weekly screen time and it’s only Wednesday… we are one minute from being late and 2 minutes from a meltdown so there’s no time to let him fasten his shoes to improve the motor skills….and oh yeah, my other kid is still in her pajamas….

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Ok, you get my point.

Honestly all of that chaos is something I’m willing to accept and I do. I live it…it’s our beautiful messy life and I know things will get easier.

But Just as I do accept this. Every day. Every morning. I wake up and accept it…something happens to remind me that NOPE! NOOOOOPE! Things are amiss here. One of these families is not like the other.

It can be big. Like a public meltdown where folks around you are Southern and sweet and just want to help m’ijo, but he lashes out at them and they don’t understand how a little boy could misread their social cues of comfort. So you apologize profusely whilst keeping that “everything is fine” face.

Or it can be small. Like the little girls who looked at each other and said “who’s he talking to” as we sped walked up the stairs and into the school. Max was reciting dialogue from Kung-Fu Panda with his deep boat horn voice and choppy articulation. As I passed him off to his [*amazing*] PPCD teacher they gave each other another that “Oh that explains it” look.

The deep hibernating Momma bear wants to give these kiddos the side eye, but of course I can’t cause “society” says it ain’t cool to give mocositas  who yes, happen to be minors, the stank eye…but also, and perhaps more so because I am the Mom I need to look like I have it together. Because If I do, then it must all be good. And it has to all be good because If I acknowledge the broken pieces of my heart, it will surely splatter and be a messy situation. And I have 2 others kids to drop off and provide “normal” lives for.

That’s a lot of pressure my friends.

Pressure that sits upon the shoulders and chests of each and every special needs parent out there.

I may feel that pressure but I have LUCKY to have a verbal, walking, engaging child.

But it’s still pressure.

I’m reminded when I have a conversation with my older son about his day at school, that I can’t have with his little brother. Or when I see His baby sister playing with dolls and using her imagination…and how I could be so foolish as to ignore the warning signs when he was her age.

When “just get a sitter” is painfully hilarious. Because you so desperately need a night off but really you need to hire two, because Max needs his own designated sitter.

So yes, I believe in that cute “different is awesome” “who wants to be normal?” kind of stuff. But if I’m being honest…If I’m keeping it 100 as the kids say…Then I raise my hand. For like one day…can we be normal? For one day can I be able to cheer when my kids finally sits on the potty, a note home without the words “biting friends” or “rough day” at the bottom? Can I understand what exactly he likes/ dislikes and why he does so. Sign me up for that day, please. “Normal Day” you can have my Mother’s Day or Flag Day in exchange.

So If you catch me out in them streets (again, as the kids say) and I look frazzled please know it’s because the pressure got to me that day.

 

 

❤ Esposa Janeli

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My First Brazilian…

My First Brazilian…

Was the most exhilarating of my hair’s lifetime!

The fact that my hair has experienced a mirage of colors, cuts and styles would be an understatement.

Luckily my hair and mental health are brilliantly managed by the best hair stylist in town – Nichole Dawn!  I, like many women, have an intrinsic need to have a serious, long term, vanity-filled relationships with her hairstylist. She becomes your bestie, confidant, and overall brand stylist.

One day as I was sitting in the hair chair, dishing on the latest chisme, drinking prosecco and catching up with Nichole, she highlighted my life with “The Brazilian”, a gorgeous hair transformation which would make my mane shiny and new. Because Lord knows I wear my feelings in my hair, and literally looked like the craziness that was 2016.  This girl needed a major boost!

And so began my first foray into the luscious and tantalizing world of the Brazilian Blowout a la Nichole.

It’s an intense process, but worth every second. Nichole broke it down and made it incredibly enjoyable.

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The Brazilian Process:

Step 1: Wash all the nastiness out of your hair. Nichole used the acai berry Brazilian Blowout formula to rinse the grunge and frizz away.

Step 2:  Nichole then stands on her feet for about an hour blow drying my locks and placing serious Brazilian Blowout chemicals into the hair, strand by strand, whipping the frizz and dullness into submission.

Step 3:  Then she takes her hot ass flat iron and gets to work on all those strands she just whipped into submission. Here’s the big tip: Depending on how wild, thick, wiry, frizzy or messed up your hair is, each strand can be flat ironed up to 12 times for the maximum de-frizz effect. The more iron smashes, the more luscious your locks will become.

In my case, I have pretty straight hair, not too thick, but a bizarre burnt frizz occurs       after every wash – no matter the product. Nichole only took a few turns of the flat iron to ensure I wouldn’t have flat hair.

After Nichole flat ironed my crazy hair, I could already see a major difference! It was as if with one twirl of the hair chair I suddenly had the gorgeous shining, soft, bouncy God gave me at birth.  Maybe Nichole really is my fairy Godmother!

Step 4:  Next Nichole had to do it all over again! Poor darling! She had to shampoo and condition my seemingly angelic hair, again, with the Brazilian Blowout Products I would later take home with me. She massaged the loveliness into my scalp and I could feel the divine sensation of beauty scrubbing into my head through her beautifully talented little fingers.

Step 5:  Nichole took my hand, led me to the hair chair for a final blowout and what usually takes at least 25 minutes with blowdrying and flat iron, took maybe 7 minutes max! SEVEN MINUTES MAX! I could feel the glitter pouring from the ceiling of Salon Boutique… All I needed to do now was sashay my way down the hall, give a sassy hair flip and a wink to the queen in the next salon chair and my transformation would be complete.

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In all seriousness though, one visit to my favorite hair stylist / bestie, changed my entire mom hair vibe! My hair was finally bouncy, frizz-free and so light I could barely think straight. And all she used was a blow dryer! No flat iron, curling rod, curlers, curling iron, hair spray, or mousse. Just a blow dryer….

My first Brazilian was a tantalizingly happy experience! While I know my hair was feeling fabulous, I honestly left feeling like a new woman.

So, if your hair is in need of an unforgettable experience – you need to call Nichole – ASAP!

Call The Gorgeous Fairy Godmother of Hair: Nichole Dawn 210-379-0591

Because damn! This hair is just too fabulous not to share! Get in that chair and let the Brazilian vibe make you feel like a new woman!

P.S. Nichole is also a single mom-preneur making her way in the world with God in her heart, razor sharp shears,  amazing talent and a true passion for hair fashion.  She’s a queen, girl boss and overall bad ass in my book.

Sending everyone love and glitter,

Esposa Dani

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When your amiga suffers a miscarriage

 

Miscarriage is an easy word to write. It is not however, easy to talk about. I’m sure as I continue typing away at this I will shed lots of tears and reopen the wounds of my heart that have (sort of) healed…well, as much as they can. But I’ll push forward because it happens, and we must talk about it. We should talk about it because the women and families left scarred from the loss of hope are suffering. They’re sad, they’re heartbroken, and we need to take care of each other.

Most of the women I know do not speak of their miscarriages until way after it has taken place. They share about it in whispers, with close friends, either as an anecdote. Typically, someone breaks the ice by bringing up their own miscarriage of the one of a close family member/friend, and then one after another women begin to share. It’s rarely brought up in a forthcoming “hey, look what happened to me” type of way.

Pre-miscarriage this made absolutely no sense to me. I wondered how on earth any women could feel embarrassed by something like this. I thought it SHOULD be talked about, it happens to so many women, we should be talking about it the way we talk about periods, cramps, stupid men who don’t “get it,” etc.

Then I had one myself. Actually, I had two. One in a very public setting, the other in the privacy of my own home. Both times, I wanted to crawl into the deepest darkest hole and disappear.

I was sad. I was scared. It felt like my heart had been ripped out of me and flushed down the toilet along with the precious angel I lost.

It doesn’t matter how small the baby is, 4 weeks, 10 weeks, 12, whatever the size… it is a loss. It is painful (physically and emotionally and mentally painful). And no matter what, no matter the woman, we will first try to disappear. Then dissolve the problem. Minimize it. Pretend like it wasn’t truly a loss, or something to grieve.

So, as a friend or family member of someone who has suffered this type of loss, here’s a small guide on what to do and what not to do.

Pay attention.  

If your homegirl announced she was preggo and was posting or texting daily or weekly updates, like how she thinks she felt a kick (even though It was probably just gas), or how excited she is and it all of a sudden stops…check on her. Send a text, give her a call.

Perhaps she’s just fine, and hasn’t posted anything cause she lost her phone.

Or maybe she got some bad news at the doctor and has had or is at risk of something happening to her/the baby.

Or perhaps she was forthcoming with the info and decided to do a mass post on Facebook to let everyone know. Don’t just comment, send a message, a text, or better yet flowers of an edible arrangement. Show her you care…she needs to be showered with love.

DON’T tell her to think of the child(ren) she already has.

 You’re coming from a good place, but that phrase is painful. Because (if it was a wanted pregnancy) she was already in love with that particular baby. That baby had already began taking up space in her heart. Help her grieve that baby.

DON’T ignore when she deflects or deflates.

This is for those friends/family member you’re real close with. The ones you really know. Don’t let them blow it off. It will catch up to them later, and the grieving process could be much worse if they try to shove it under the rug. Call her out and et her know it’s OK to acknowledge it for what it truly is.

Let her cry.

She needs a cry. It’s ok to be a llorona sometimes. Hand her every last tissue out of the box. Hold her as she sobs. Tell her you’re sorry. Don’t try to fix it. Bring over ice cream, her favorite movie and sit with her.

Distract her

Take her out to eat, or for a walk. Let her choose what to do but let her know you’re there. It will mean so much. She may put up a front or genuinely want to be alone, but to know she has someone there in spirit with her is enough to help her through it.

If you have to, intervene.

I pushed a lot of people away when I miscarried. I felt like I was made to be a spectacle (when it happened in the public setting) so I wanted to be a complete shut in unless it was work related. But after a while, I even stopped talking to my husband. And he stepped in and called me out. So I had to crawl out of that deep dark space with only him to help pull me out. I wish I had reach out to more friends for help, or had someone notice. But that’s the trouble with deflating, deflecting, and not sharing…no one knew I needed help.

It wasn’t until I started opening up and telling others about what happened, how it happened, cried about it and laughed about it,  that I felt like I truly started to heal. It felt foreign to me to talk about something so sad…but there’s something familiar about it when the person across form you has also gone through it and can relate.

Miscarriages happen. More often than you think. So ladies, don’t be afraid to share your story, and amig@s, don’t be afraid to listen. Maybe you’ll be uncomfortable for a moment, but it’s not about you…and it’s nothing compared to what she’s feeling.

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Best Decision Ever.

Back at the end of October, I was brought on board to Adelante Scholarship Fund to help coordinate their annual Leadership Institute for their scholars and young students across the nation.  It was an amazing experience, for many reasons, but one moment stuck out to me, because it’s a huge part of why I even started this “Esposa Experience thing” anyway.

me-and-dr-machado-casasDuring the opening session Dr. Margarita Machado-Casas shared her story and how she has come into her own identity and paved a way for herself. Btw, if you EVER get a chance to her her speak-do NOT pass it up. She’s strong, vivacious, and gives you #RealTalk. Everyone was enthralled with her story, her positive attitude, and her all out badassery…especially the young ladies.

 

Then she says, “One of the best decisions I ever made was marrying my husband” I saw the young ladies in the crowd taken a back and perk up as if to say “wait, what!”

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Dr. Margarita Machado-Casas speaking at the Adelante National Leadership Insititute

This brilliant and vibrant woman, Dr. Margarita Macho-Casas had just shard a bit of her personal story-which is AMAZING, and began talking about how she handles a work/life balance today.

She began to speak about how women need to be careful to pick a partner who is not intimidated by their success.

 

I immediately jumped on the mic and asked “Can you say that again?”

And she did. Slowly. So these young adults could really hear her.

Just then my cell phone vibrated in my hand with an update from husband about the children:

“All kids picked up, heading home. Love you”

It’s hard being a tough and independent Latina whilst being a married soft and sweet wife. I’m loud, abrasive, and sometimes intimidating except behind closed doors with my husband. He’s the only one who sees that side of me. This dichotomy leaves me, and many other like minded women like myself with a little feminist guilt. Like, I know I can do it all if I had to. I know I don’t truly NEED my husband, but I want him, and for now I want to need him.

I’m often asked “how do you do it all” and the first answer is always “Jake.” He’s never been intimidated by everything going on in my life. There’ve been times where I made more money, other times where he did, and that never mattered. Because it was always our house, our money, with respect to each other’s finances and independent lives. We figured it out. We continue to figure it out-everyday. We support one another. It’s tit for tat. And no matter how many comments are made about are vastly different personalities, professions, and even interests, he doesn’t let it get him down, jealous, upset, etc. He knows me best.

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Hubby and I at a Galas. He often volunteers at my events just so we can get some time together ❤ 

We’re not perfect, I can take him for granted, and he sometimes has to put me in check. He can be a poor communicator and I have to check him as well But we work as hard on our marriage as we do on our careers, parenthood, everything else. What’s important is that we put each other first. Above everything.

 

 

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Maximus The Great: 3 things you should before your first ARD

So you’ve gone and done your Special Education Evaluation with your school district and you wait. It may feel like forever, I know but soon you will have your ARD meeting (ARD = Admission, Review, Dismissal) where you’ll review the options for your child within the special education system. After the evaluation, the school district has up to 45 school days to schedule and meet with you.

It can be intimidating to go through this process as a newcomer-trust me I just had mine a couple of weeks ago! But I’ve been blessed to be around folks who’ve sat at each side of the table who gave me tips and made me feel comfortable (well, sort of). So I will share the wisdom that helped me through with you!

Ask for the Evaluation Results before the ARD.

Your evaluation will be sent to the school in which your zoned and will be reviewed by the professionals there who will create the IEP for you. These folks may never set eyes on your child before they enter their classroom, and it’s most likely the evaluators only interacted with your child that one time…remember, you know your child best! Request the evaluation before the ARD (this can be done by making a phone call to the school district’s special education department, or just by asking the specialist at your evaluation. Review the evaluation ahead of time. Mark it up if you see fit! Highlight sections you wanted to discuss at the ARD.

 

Take someone with you. You are entitled to take another person, whether it’s a paid advocate, speech therapist, occupational therapist, nanny, grandparent, aunt, whomever you feel is best with you to be a participant in the ARD. For example, I took my son’s Speech Therapist. She knew Max’s capabilities, his weaknesses, and his personality. She wouldn’t have come, however had I not asked. Speak up, parents…no need to be shy when it comes to these things!

 

Remember: YOU ARE IN CHARGE. You are the parent. You know your child better than anyone. The entire process is overwhelming. To the folks across the school office counter or tiny desks, or maybe even a real adult sized conference table, you’re another parent out of the hundreds they see in their career. And though they’re usually nice and considerate and treat each child/case independently, don’t let their experience one-up you. They may be experts in their fields, but you’re an expert in who your kid is, what they’ve experienced up to this point. Ask questions, make sure you understand EVERYTHING. If anything makes you say “huh?” or you don’t quite understand the next steps in the process, ask for them to explain.

 

Have any tips of your own? Leave it in the comments!

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The day after, I had bigger fish to fry.

It’s the day after and the stirring silence from friends and family is an indicator of the fear leftover from election night.

But I have to put that away right now. Because my son needs me. I want to rant and rave and be pissed then take a deep breath and say ok, I’m moving on, staying in track and fighting harder….but all of that noise doesn’t matter right now in this moment. 

In this moment my 3 year old lays sedated with wires glued to his head and a bright computer monitor with scriggly lines all over it. Repeated fluctuations, moving at a constant speed….this goes on for an hour and a half. 

I’ve choked down tears three times already. Once when they put the IV in, again when I sat waiting for the doctor and my sensory sensitive kiddo kept trying to rip his IV out, and again as I held his screaming flailing body fall to a deep medically induced sleep.

Feeling your child go limp is not fun even when you know it’s for his own good and part of the process. 


img_0127Our boy is not a lab rat. We are not a case study. We are human. I know that, the doctors know that, my friends and family know that but that’s what this feels like. Every assessment we get watched through a window, every time we review and repeat the family history, every time I have to think about those quirks he began as a baby that were much more than quirks. every form I have to fill out, and every observation made, I’m made to feel like a science experiment.

He is not a lab rat but here we are in this most unnatural environment as I sit and watch my son sleep heavily with red,green, blue and white wires attached to his head. I’m googling what a normal EEG should look like. But I’m not a neurologist and am too tired to pretend to be. 

And then the reality sits upon me, we are in this new world packaged in a dark cloud of hate, racism, fear, and everything else bad with this country. But I don’t have time to complain. I don’t have the energy to focus on negativity right now because I have to use it all to fill up my hope tank. Hope for my son, for my other children, and hope for the rest of us.

I won’t give up on Max. I won’t give up on you. I won’t give up on this country. We’re great, or we can be anyway. But we need work. Lots of work. And I do look forward to a greater tomorrow, but one that benefits us all. Because we all deserve that dream. No matter what life hands us we have the right to dream and work for a greater tomorrow. And we have the right and responsibility to help each other do that. 

I can’t open the flood gates of fear right now, because trust me, the thoughts are there

“what happens if the Affordable Care Act IS repealed, and preexisting conditions comeback into play and Max’s autism is seen as a preexisting condition and we have to pay even MORE money than we already do.”

“What if we lose a job and have to use medicaid, what will happen then?”

And that’s just scratching the very surface.

What I’ve learned from this journey with Max is that I have to turn my fear and urge to run, hide and cry into stand up, face it, and fight. And that’s what I’ll do for whats right, for our future. Turn the fear and anger into hope and action. img_0130

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When meltdowns invade your marriage.

My forehead laid against the top of the steering wheel and it hurt as pressed up and down between my sobs. I hadn’t cried this hard in a while. I was defeated. My son’s meltdown kicked my ass. I spent hours picking apart what I’d wear and did my makeup with extra precision so I would “look” like a mom who had it all together. My son, and his autism sure as hell didn’t care.

 

He sat in the back staring off at pigeons circling the parking lot. I tried my best not to let him hear me cry. Worn down and scared, I pulled out of the parking lot and started running down the list of people to blame. My parents, my sister, my husband….yep…my husband’s fault.

 

A flood of pointed questions came over me:

 

“Where is he?

Why isn’t he here?

Why do I have to do this alone?

Don’t  they know I wasn’t built for this?

HE’S the laid back and patient one.

What kind of father would let us walk into this scary assessment by ourselves?”

 

A distant, very quiet voice inside of me started answering:

“He’s at work.

He couldn’t get the time off today.

You didn’t ask anyone to come with you.

You are built for this, you’re his mom.

He’s doing his part. He’s at work. He’s providing.”

 

Nonetheless, when he got home, I let him have it. I just railed into him about how terrible everything was, how I felt so alone, how he wasn’t there for me, how I needed him to do more…because his hepling bathe the kids, do dishes, laundry, diapers, basically everything I do on a daily basis wasn’t enough.  And then I realize it. I was having my own meltdown.

I was allowing my stress to pop the bottle top off of my pent up emotions and sprayed it all over my husband…the most hands-on father and provider you’ve met.

 

Parents of children with autism are at higher risk of divorcing than those with neurotypical children. I can sympathize. I think God put us through the ringer the first several years of our marriage because he knew we longer bumpy road ahead of us. So we had to build up our love, respect, and strength for one another.

 

Being a parent is hard. Being a parents and REMEMBERING you have a spouse is hard. Keeping that spark is hard. Adding elements like children with special needs, traumatic experiences, etc. make it all the more hard to be the happy couple who walked down the aisle.

Don’t let your words or actions make it even harder. Life will do its part to put obstacles in your way, don’t make the mistake of placing those obstacles there yourself.

 

 

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Maximus The Great: It’s Official.

He’s three. He’s had three birthday parties. Three Christmases. Three Easter holidays.

He’s three and has had double as many assessments than birthdays, holidays, and years on this earth. They started when he first failed a milestone survey at 2 and half and his Early Head Start teacher asked me to meet with ECI. At that point, I realized I was caught. A dirty liar. I may have imagined the milestones he was expected to have completed while I hurriedly filled out the same surveys in the waiting room of my doctors office; “I think he imitated my line drawing,” “Sure he can alternate his feet while climbing steps. Some times. Once?”  I thought to myself. I guess I thought those forms were more of a testament of me as a mother than how my child was truly performing and interacting with the world. Six “tests” to determine whether or not my kid is normal. Two for ECI, one for the Autism Community Network (which was part 1 of 2), two more for therapy services, and most recently, a big one, his School District’s Special Education Assessment with a Licensed School Psychologist and Special Education Specialist.

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Over the summer, as we spent our days together the cosmic bubble that consumed him, the one he’d allow me to enter every once in awhile, the one we’d have to step into to see the world through his eyes faded into something a little more transparent. He began to see us, interact with us. During our time together, a new school year began and so, we met with our local school district to get a Special Education evaluation.

Our intake portion of the assessment was about an inch short of a disaster. I had paperwork to submit and review with the very sweet, very patient Special Education Director. But Max didn’t care. We got in the room and he had an instant meltdown. Which included throwing himself against the large window (it didn’t break), throwing a stapler, disconnecting a phone, a computer…basically destroying anything he could get his hands on then running to the door. So there I am, trying to hold a very serious and super informative conversation while the Tazmanian Devil tore through the room. As I sat and listened, responded, and tried to take in what she was telling me about my rights as a parents through this process the tears welled up in my eyes and I choked back the strong urge to cry and give a little scream.

I thanked the staff for their time and patience, clutched my son’s hand very tightly and all but dragged him into the truck outside. I buckled him in and threw myself into my seat where I proceeded to sob in the parking lot while he sat quiet strapped in staring off into the sky.

After the defeat of that day, I planned better for the next time we’d return to the school for the big assessment. I asked my Esposo to take the day off work, I packed snacks and a change of clothes, coloring books, and anything else that made me feel “prepared.”

I didn’t need any of it.

He did very well. He needed some redirection but showed off his new words, his ability to stay focused for longer periods of time, and just his overall awesomeness to both assessors. Who each, at one point, gushed about how handsome and/or cute he is. (Swoon!)

After about two hours of “tests” which looked a lot more like guided play time, several in depth questions for me and Dad, the School Psychologist came back with what we’d been waiting to hear.

“He’s brilliant, there’s nothing wrong except a little speech delay, go home and quit your whining crazy lady with blue hair!” Just kidding. That didn’t happen.

 

She laid down his scores, and there it was, above the threshold for “Severe Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder.”img_0137-2

I couldn’t get past that first word “Severe.”

Surely, my bright adorable kiddo who doesn’t flap his hands, or rock back and forth is not “severe”. I scanned over the different categories and could no longer lie to myself as I did in my pediatrician’s waiting room.

This is reality.

This is what we came here for.

This is who he is.

This is Maximus.

And that’s okay.

I took a breath. It came out deeper than I expected and a rush of relief came over me. “Finally.” I said. “We’re not crazy.” They handed me a tissue as I nervously laughed and caught my husbands eyes across the mini table. We felt vindicated. We felt relieved. We felt nervous. We felt proud. No one could say “estas loca mi’ja” or “no seas exagerada!” anymore. Not when it came to this, anyway.

“No, you’re not crazy, and we’re glad y’all are here,” she said.

Non Categorical Early Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorder. It’s official. Like, on a paper with a professional’s signature and everything.

10 months of waiting. It felt much longer. But it’s nice not to be in limbo. It’s nice to be able to understand that what my kid is living with has a name. An OFFICIAL name.

He’s also officially  using the most amount of words he’s ever used, putting sentences together, learning to be soft with baby sis, can walk into a crowded room sans-meltdown (most of the time). He’s officially moved on from Buzz Lightyear and Trains are his new jam.

And so we are OFFICIALLY ready for this journey. And we hope our friends and family are too, because we’re recruiting for Maximus The Great’s Army of Advocacy.

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This process was a bit tough to navigate so I plan on advocating and spreading education for those families who may not know where to turn or what to do if they expect their little one may the on the Spectrum. Stay tuned for more info and share this with a family member of friend going through it as well. There’s power in numbers!