Monday, September 3, 2012

Why We Walk.....

"Will I Always Have Asperger's?"

This is the question that my son asked me last week, with my heart breaking I quietly answered “yes”.

Every 15 minutes a family’s life is forever changed, they learn that their child has Autism. For my family it was July 6th 2012. The day is etched in my mind and will never be forgotten. I knew from birth that my child was special. He was content to just lay on the floor by himself as a infant and look around, I remembering thinking to myself, that my son must be the brightest baby I had ever seen. Here he was, just taking in everything around him with such awe in his eyes. I wanted more than anything to hold and cuddle my son, but he would often cry and want down. I noticed, as he grew older that he rarely looked anyone in eye and did not engage in much imaginary play. He was never comfortable with physical contact and seemed disconnected when it came to emotions and feelings. Along with the absence of emotions, Jerimiah also exhibited strange sensory issues, noises, and textures of both food and clothing and could not stand to have his hands dirty. I could see the anxiety in my child increase when one of his senses was overloaded.

Beginning at the age of 6 we started seeing specialists; he did receive the SPD diagnosis (Sensory Processing Disorder). We also were told that our son likely had one of the following, Obsessive Defiance Disorder or Bipolar Disorder. We saw two specialists, a neurologist and a child psychologist who both looked at us and said, “I don’t know what is going on with your child.” The next year and half for my family was extremely difficult. Jerimiahs mood swings and complete lack of empathy made life challenging. The past 6 months we rarely left the house due to Jerimiahs unexpected behavior.

But on July 6th, 2012 we received a diagnosis that fit our son 100 percent. I spent hours with a children psychiatrist who in the end confirmed to me that our son in deed has Asperger’s. She went over each criteria and all I could do was nod when she asked me if my son fit within the criteria. I looked at our son and with deep sadness I knew that she was right. I knew that our son, without a doubt had Asperger’s. I left the office in a daze; I called my sister Angie who can always find the good in difficult situations. With her kind words I knew that my son and our family would be okay.

Since the diagnosis, life has been challenging. Jerimiah is on medication for his severe anxiety and depression and as of his last visit with the Psychiatrist he now also needs a mood stabilizer. Now that his anxiety is under control we are seeing all of the Asperger’s come out and I can assure you that every day is a struggle for my family. Meeting the needs of a child who has Autism and another who does not is so tiring and has taken its toll. Every night both Ben and I are exhausted, there is little time for each other because we are both so emotionally exhausted. We are slowly learning what it means to have a child with Asperger’s.

Although there are negative that come along with Asperger’s, there is great joy that has come as well. Now that our sons’ anxiety is under control we are seeing an incredibly bright, humorous child blossoming. Jerimiah has shown us how to not take life so seriously.

He has challenged us as parents to look past the differences in this world and embrace people for who they are. He has taught me that as his mother, I have the strength to be my child’s strongest advocate. He has taught Ben that being a father means fighting for your son and his rights regardless of what “condition” they have.

We are adapting, we will overcome, and we will continue to be a strong family.

So why am I writing to you? Well, we are very excited to take part this year in the Walk for Autism, Jerimiah especially in excited about having a team, making our T-Shirts and raising money for children like him that are often misunderstood. We are traveling to Colorado Springs and joining other families like ours and will be walking, we are walking for our son, for our family and for all of the families that are affected by Autism.

Since the diagnosis, we have learned that our son needs a behavioral aid, psychologist, psychiatrist and then requires regular visits at his pediatrician. Right now we are able to cover the expenses but even with insurance the cost is increasing faster than we can keep up. Donating to Autism Speaks helps families like ours get access to resources for our children at a fraction of the cost we are currently paying. With donations we are able to push Congress to keep and add funding for families like ours.

If you are able to donate please do so, even a small donation will make a difference for so many families like ours. Share this letter to your co-workers, friends and family, every penny counts!

From our family to yours, thank you. If you are unable to donate please pray for our family and all of the families like ours. The power of prayer is an amazing thing!

You can go to the following link and donate, you can find the link on my Facebook page or you can fill out the donation form enclosed. Thank you to each and every one of you for the support and love.

The Bechens