April is Autism Awareness Month. April the 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. My daughter has autism.
These are all facts I had no idea about five years ago.
Milla was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder not long after her second birthday, although her paediatrician had raised concerns from around 18 months. Milla was born at 32 weeks gestation, so at first her delays were put down to her prematurity.
As I sat in the paediatrician’s office, I knew from the questions she was asking what her suspicions were.
As I sat in the psychologists office during the assessment and Milla screamed and screamed at the ticking clock, I knew her suspicions were correct. The psychologist looked me in straight in the eye and said “This is not normal behaviour.” I’ve never forgotten those words. After we received the assessment report, we never went back to see that psychologist.
Three years later, Milla is a vivacious and intelligent young lady. She has had years of intensive early intervention, speech therapy and occupational therapy. She is affectionate and loving, sensitive and emotional. Everything she has achieved has been through her own hard work and tenacity.
It doesn’t take much to rock her little world, but even when to all appearances it’s beaten her and she falls in to bed weary and defeated, she bursts through our bedroom door in the morning ready to face it all again.
She is curious about everything and has a thirst for knowledge that in all my years of early childhood education I had never encountered. Her photographic memory never ceases to amaze me, even when it leads to my downfall as my recall can never match hers.
Her quirky one liners bring smiles to people’s faces she has never even met. Trust me when I say she is just as charismatic in real life.
She is compassionate and kind, yet blunt and aloof. She will say exactly what she is thinking, so take the good with the bad.
If someone had of told me six years ago, that the baby I was carrying would be autistic, I would have been terrified. I was terrified, as I gazed at my two year old feeling like everything had changed.
Tomorrow is World Autism Awareness Day. I never imagined that this would be my life. I never imagined what it would be like to have a child who has autism. I could never possibly have imagined the giddying highs or the devastating lows. The thing is, I wouldn’t change it, I wouldn’t change HER.
She is Milla, a combination of the best and worst traits of my husband and I, of her environment, of her autism. It all rolls together to make this amazing kid. She is exactly who she is meant to be, and I am in awe that I helped create her.