Bill and I waited until Billy was twelve to tell him he had Autism. This is not a one size fits all way to do things, and right up until we did, I prayed I was doing the right thing. I wish I could tell you that I embraced the idea of Billy having Autism, and knew how to handle it right out of the gate — that would be a lie. This in itself was hard for me to wrap my brain around; after all, we were already dealing with a child with a very serious health condition. Shouldn’t this be easier?
There is very little doubt my children have taught me more in their young lives than I ever hope to pass on. From the moment we were told of Andrew’s heart condition my heart took the immediate and constant posture of prayer. What else could I do but cry out, LORD help him. In contrast, for Billy I set out to learn more, in order to make this better. I believe my Masters degree in Education gave me a false sense that I could hand this. Don’t get me wrong, I read plenty about Andrew’s condition too. The difference was not for one moment did I ever have the delusion that I could handle Andrew’s condition without prayer. Because of this, instead of being at peace with Autism, it in many ways became my enemy, which gave me a sense of hopelessness and despair. Looking back I am so thankful I had these two situations to look at and see myself responding very differently.
My hopeless feeling was also not being helped by all that I was reading. There is so much available these days, different strategies, many, many success stories, and plenty of support groups. This was not the case sixteen years ago. What was available was a lot of people making guesses, with little positive outlook. I put the books away, and I trusted that God loved Billy more than I did, and He would help me. The next several years were much easier. I was surrounded by people that God was putting into my life to help me figure this out — One Bite at a Time — how to help Billy stay engaged in our world. All of the wonderful things he has accomplished now would not have been possible if he would have stayed spinning around in his own little world, day in and day out.