October 15, 2010

Four Years Later

We are approaching the four year anniversary of Will's autism diagnosis. Yesterday, I wrote about our initial response to that difficult diagnosis. Thankfully, the grief we felt is not the end of the story. Four years later, Will is a changed boy, completely unrecognizable from who he was at the time we first heard the word autism applied to him.

When he was younger, there was an unexplainable lack of connection with Will, something hard to pinpoint but real nonetheless. He was affectionate with us, loving to sit in our laps and have his head rubbed, but behind his smiles something seemed off.  He often clung to me in public, seeming to plead for me to be a buffer and translator between him and the world. When we rode in the car, he never babbled or spoke, but just stared quietly out the window watching the world go by. I tried with everything in me to pull things out of him, to know him. When we drove home from church, I would ask him all sorts of questions. 
“Will, did you have fun today?”
“What did you do at church?”
More silence.
“Did you go outside today?”
The responses never came. I began handing him the answers, hoping he would repeat them after me. I was just talking to myself, modeling the happy chatter I longed to hear from him. So much of my drive times with him were filled with quiet and, despite my happy chatter, the worst sadness I had ever experienced. I remember thinking that if he ever talked to me, I would never take it for granted.

That day is here. And I don't take it for granted.

Our 7-year-old boy is full of curiosity, joy, and love. He shares who he is with us. There is a natural connection between us, and I can send him out into the world knowing that he is fine without me.

We have worked extremely hard to get here, but he has certainly worked the hardest of any of us. But ultimately I attribute his progress to the grace of God; He has been good to us.

Will's disability has been a gift to me, humbling me and causing me to trust Him more. The promise God gave me concerning my first born has been fulfilled:

The Lord is good to those
To those who wait for Him
I will be still
And I will know that you are God
Your loving kindnesses,
Indeed they never cease.
Your compassion never fails.

Will is really into the "If You Give.." books. He recently wrote his own, pictured above.

He drew this picture in art at school, depicting our family at the beach. The house we stayed in with my whole family had an elevator, the black part of the house in the picture.