By Christine Denise
Autism Mom and Contributing Writer for As You Are, a virtual clinic dramatically increasing access to early autism diagnostic services through the use of exclusively telehealth appointments
Sometimes the most healing moments along your journey as an autism parent are completely spontaneous.
I never would have guessed where one of mine recently happened.
3 Boys and 1 Fur Baby
I was at – of all places – the vet’s office with my dog for a checkup.
Louie wasn’t with me.
It was just me and my dog.
I never expected that Louie would come up.
But, there I was with my dog when suddenly a conversation that would help myself and the vet came up.
Not going to lie, I found the best dog in the world. Or maybe he found us.
My neurotypical kids begged and pleaded with my husband and I to get a dog.
We resisted for 10 years, never believing we would find one we could trust to be around Louie.
Louie hits and bites us as sensory seeking behaviors, and it can test our patience, so, how could we ever trust a dog?
Some distant friends were looking to find a new home for a second dog who wasn’t very popular with their first dog.
As soon as I saw him, I knew he was a great dog.
After some conversation, our friend offered to let us foster him for a few weeks and see how Louie and he did around each other.
And they completely understood if it wasn’t going to be for us.
Turns out, it was perfect.
When You Least Expect It
As he sat on the floor of the vet’s office, the doctor remarked about how great of a disposition he had and how he couldn’t imagine how anyone would ever want to get rid of him.
That’s when it just came out.
All three of my children love this dog, but especially my son with autism. And he’s so good with our son too, I told the vet.
He looked at me and told me his grandson had just been diagnosed at the age of 2.
He told me he feared his grandson had autism when he was just a few months old, but everyone in his family shunned him for his theories.
I told him how I bet he feels helpless watching his daughter – his grandson’s mother – learn how to navigate this new world.
Tears formed in his eyes.
“Exactly,” he said.
I launched into the experiences and tips I had gathered along my nine years into this journey.
Told him about this blog.
Told him about how his daughter should look into state benefits and the name of the office to go to.
Told him about the little gym we go to that’s made for children with sensory issues.
Told him about our state’s early intervention program and how to enroll.
He turned my dog’s chart into a notepad as we talked, writing down information he wanted to be sure to tell his daughter following our discussion.
He asked if his daughter could call me. I gladly gave him my number.
By the end of our discussion, he asked if he could hug me and thanked me for sharing “so much knowledge” with him.
Just What the Doctor Ordered
For that fleeting moment, I felt proud of myself – almost surprised at how educated I sounded about this journey.
As I’ve said in earlier blogs, being the parent of a special needs child is many things – among them an internal battle you will have with yourself always wondering if you’re doing enough for your child.
I’ve always felt like the vet, writing information down on snippets of paper whenever I meet someone and end up having a spontaneous conversation about all that’s out there for children with autism and their families.
I walk away feeling pretty bad about myself for not knowing all of that information, and feeling like other parents have it so much more together than I do.
But that moment at the vet helped me realize just how much I do know and how far I’ve come.
No matter if you are just starting out in this journey or have been around it for years, you won’t realize how much you have learned, how resourceful you’ve become and how strong you look.
Sometimes all it takes is for someone else to show it to you.
Do you have questions about your child’s development? The team at As You Are provides useful autism screening and diagnostic evaluations for kids 16 months to 10 years old via telehealth appointments.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This is a sponsored blog post, but all opinions are my own.