Graduation Blues and Autism

Graduation Blues

This is a tough one but written to honor autism moms all over the world. Our family will not be celebrating a graduation this year. When my son was born in 2000, it was really cool.  We talked about how every monumental marker for his life was easily identifiable as a millennium baby. However, 18 years ago, we experienced a birth very much NOT like we imagined: a hole in the heart, functional underdevelopment at birth, jaundice, etc… NICU was our baby’s first home. 
Graduation Blues with My Jayce
photo credit: Liz Reitzig
With vaccines, we experienced trauma after his MMR at 3 years old because his body wasn’t strong for these live vaccines and additives.
We’ve won in SO many ways, yet many difficult life decisions flexed; like quitting work to home school. Additionally, we changed gears and got serious about our diet. But for just a moment it is paramount to acknowledge that there are more and more of us parents who get to watch our friends and families kids’ graduate. 
In this season of Graduation, it’s exciting and thrilling to see the success of our family and friends’ kids. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t also share that this season is difficult. Where you discuss what college, we celebrate that he came through most autistic expression and moves through secondary school at a great pace now.  However, 2018 does not represent the mile marker for graduation for our millennium baby. There are no proms and grad parties, but we do have different celebrations.

Overcoming

Although we heard he would not be able to read or write, my 18-year-old son now writes and draws voraciously. Ironically, he desires to be an author and a farmer. This is nothing short of miraculous. He moves through 3-grades in 2 years. As much as I celebrate these accomplishments, our recovery and “catch-up” is really hard and I am experiencing an unforeseen difficulty!!
 
Reading and attending graduation celebrations and accomplishments from friends and relatives’ children, I find myself crying. From joy and disbelieve of time’s quick passing – but also, because my child is so far from his peers in the standard view.
 
As glamorous as I want life, it is my calling to be real and identifiable. This is about as real as it gets! The only way I could move forward was to author a book/cookbook with medical studies to help others from experiencing the difficulty of recovering a compromised child. Although we have recovered so many indications and children, it is much easier to prevent a condition than to recover. Therefore my cookbook is created for simple, fast, delicious, and healing recipes towards “Real Food Recovery“, while supporting orphan kids.
 
Truly, there are no words deep enough to explain the pain inside my heart for my son over this moment in time. Graduation is a simple moment and yet it passes us by without regard. Therefore, I will continue to fight for love and hope! Above all, I keep moving forward and looking up. My greatest hope to recover him did change the future for a lot of us. We live intentionally.  As a family, we consider our body more important than the novelty and fads marketed as food. With this perspective, I am able to carry this empowerment forward to foster children and orphans.

Perspective

Sometimes, I resent that my husband and I had a High School graduation with honors in Calculus, Physics, and college dual-enrollment at 18 years old and that it was fairly easy in comparison to the efforts made to get our son to a fifth-grade level at this same age. However, in my intentional living, my perspective is important. Smiling, I appreciate that he can learn and that the sky is the limit because he has already overcome in many ways. In his eccentricity; Picasso, Dali, Einstein, Johnny Depp, and many others come to mind, who I view as great contributors to our world. It’s not the common folks that open our minds, but the uncommon. This is my justification.
 
In every ounce of me, I know that we each have gifts to improve our world. While some are privileged and some have to work a heck of a lot harder, the results are the same! Certainly, I cannot lose sight of how grateful we are to have recovered enough to even have this problem! 🙂 Even still, I continue to ball my eyes out through this season as my son’s peers are ready to begin adulthood with a high school degree!  Graduation is elusive, yet my tears are filled with joy and want of our accomplishments and the progress we must continue.
I hope all autism moms out there know that I love you and I feel a kindred spirit with you. This isn’t easy! You are a beautiful family no matter what people misunderstand! And I applaud you in this season as “no less of a mom” but in fact a great mom who moves forward every day with some hope and love that genuinely moves mountains. 
~Mandy
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Mandy

Mandy is the force behind the advocacy portal Real Food Recovery. Since losing a 4 yr old to cancer while fostering to adopt, Mandy founded a nonprofit organization recovering children at-risk using real food, real discussion, and encouragement. As a Wife, Mom of birth, foster, and adopted children, author, Nutritional Therapist, & NRT, Mandy shares simple food tips while volunteering in a local Orphanage to create a model for change. Connect with Mandy through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
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2 thoughts on “Graduation Blues and Autism

  1. Thank you for sharing your heart and journey, Mandy! You are sure to encourage many moms with this post. Keep loving, growing, and sharing, please!

  2. Mandy,
    My heart hurts for you AND rejoices with you for how far you and the Lord have brought your precious and brilliant son. I can’t wait to see where life takes him.
    Thanks for being REAL, as I know it will help many Moms to feel they’re not alone.
    Love,
    Kelly

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