It was late in the middle of the night and we were on our way home from a party. The sky was an inky midnight, speckled with luminous stars. I was almost asleep in the backseat of the car, my head resting casually on the cool window. Suddenly my eyes were jolted wide. Lights were spinning in circles around me and my neck was swaying back and forth unsteadily; I was unable to keep my head straight. I fervently closed my eyes to stop the assault of spinning lights and whooshing sounds, hoping it may give me the clarity to understand what was going on. I was on a roller coaster. But I had just been in a car. My brain didn't understand how to make sense of this. It had never experienced these simultaneous stimulus before. And suddenly my breath held tight was forced to exhale as the car fiercely hit the gray stony bluffs down below, edging the stretch of highway we were driving on.
A car accident, my brain understood in that instant. Scary but a little less horrific based on the fact that I understood what it all was. The reality was so much less painful than the previous moments of terror and uncertainty. I look down, sparkling, broken glass illuminating the perfect light of the moon. Beautiful. I internally assess my body. I was okay. I was alive. I made it.
And that high school experience is the closest I can get to describing how I felt when Greyson was 18 months old. Every cell of my Mothering gut knew something was going on, but my brain didn't know how to make sense of it. It had no past experience to draw from. Everything was so fast and so foreign.
Everyone told me he was fine. Numerous Professionals, friends, strangers I practically begged to also notice the indescribable differences I saw. He's perfectly fine. Greyson is fine. Look at him! He's fine! Fine, fine, fine. I heard the word so many times it began to sound like a nonsensical sound instead of a word I longed to be truth. But unlike the apprehension I felt in the moment I was spinning out of control during the car accident, this unbearable uncertainty lasted a year and a half. 18 months of purgatory from the moment that first tickle of uncertainty until the day the doctor kindly but unwaiveringly told me, Your son fits the diagnostic criteria for autism. And somehow the certainty of the crash, and the understanding of the situation was so much less excruciating than the unknowing and the spinning.
And those memories were jolted loose today as I drove Parker to a school assessment to determine if he did indeed have autistic like behaviors. Since they aren't Doctors that aren't allowed to give diagnosis terms. Time has truthfully given me the gift of past experience. I no longer thought, I hope he does what they ask him to. I hope he passes. He's tired- it's his nap time- I hope that doesn't interfere. Tired, hungry, cranky- none of those things get you an autism diagnosis. Only a box filled with a check next to the appropriate items listed on the DSM-5, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The bible used as a diagnostic tool by the American Psychiatric Association.
And all sounds stopped as we slowly walked toward the room I haven't been to in a long, long time. And although I am the same girl, I'm somehow completely different. I entered this room filled with past demons and whispering ghosts, lingering from Greyson's many months of Early Intervention preschool, also, in this exact same room. I recall the many months of uncertainty. I want to go back to the ghost of me, and hold her, and weep. The last time I walked out of that building, I never thought I'd see it again.
And Parker walked right in, and he played. Of course he played. Toys he's never seen before filled the room and he was so happy.
He played in all the ways that make his heart sing. And it turns out, we didn't even need to be there. Isn't that funny? Since we are not sending him to school as soon as he turns three, we don't need an assessment to decide his school placement. He still has to go through the diagnostic evaluation by the state before he turns three in April, but for today- he got to be just a kid and play with his Early Intervention Teacher who usually conducts home visits with him.
And with nothing else to do for a little while, and no where else to be, together we explored.
Your eyes they shine so bright I want to save that light. I can't escape this now, unless you show me how. (Imagine Dragons- Demons)
And I realized as we were leaving, the ghosts were no longer there. I made peace with them. Maybe that's the real reason I was there.