Our Life on the Spectrum: How Autism Made Us Better Parents (Part 1)


Note: When this blog post was written, person-first language was the generally preferred convention for speaking about autism. We realize that terminology changes over time and there is current discussion and advocacy for the use of identity-first language. At ABQ Mom, we always seek to use the language that reflects the inherent dignity and worth of all people. We also respect the rights of our writers to select their own terminology when telling their own stories and that is why person-first language remains in this blog post.

The day we brought our six pound, nine ounce sweet baby boy home, I knew our family was complete. We found our missing piece! From the top of his fuzzy, best-smell-in-the-world head, to the tip of his pruny little toes, he was beautiful. Although I had a long, rough pregnancy and a lot of health scares, labor was smooth. Our boy was home. And no one was going to tell me that he was anything less than perfect. Autism spectrum disorders were the furthest thing from my mind.


When Roman was almost seven months old, he had a routine doctor’s appointment. During the previous visit, he hadn’t met certain milestones. I wasn’t concerned. Every child develops at their own pace, right? Needless to say, what we thought was going to be a quick height and weight check-up turned into a long list of concerns and a whole-lotta questions. “Is Roman making eye contact? Does he smile when he sees your face? Is he babbling in a weird tone? Does he always flick his fingers like that?” When the doctor finished with the 101 questions, she handed me a stack of pamphlets. She told us that Roman was developmentally delayed and that he was about two months behind. “He needs early intervention,” she said. Nope! Sorry, you’ve got the wrong kid.

Not MY Baby

We had one discussion about the possibility and left it alone. No one was going to tell me how to raise my child. And no one was going to say something was wrong with him. He was the best baby ever! He never cried. And he never fussed. He never made a peep. Wait, he never made a peep? He never fussed? He doesn’t talk a lot, does he? Why DOES he flick his fingers like that? Why isn’t he talking or crawling? And WHY won’t he make eye contact with me? Is it normal that his head keeps dropping like that? WHAT IS GOING ON?!

After a few weeks of denial and countless hours of YouTube videos on How to Improve Your Child’s Motor Skills, it was time. We needed help.

Followed by several second opinions, appointments, and hospital visits, Roman was diagnosed with Atonic seizures and a developmental delay. He began early intervention services with speech, occupational, developmental, and physical therapists several times a week.

After a brutal physical therapy session (an hour of Roman screaming hysterically and flapping his hands up and down), his therapist started gathering up her things and making small talk as I tried to soothe him. She assured me that he would get there, gave me a hug, and said, “Don’t worry, it takes time. You should read The Out-of-Sync Child! When my son was diagnosed with ASD, that book really helped me out. Have a good weekend!”

ASD? Wait, what is ASD? (It’s Autism Spectrum Disorders, by the way.) I have so many questions! Before I could ask, she was out the door. And down the Google rabbit hole I went.

Read part 2 of this post here.

Originally published April 2019.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.


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