This year could not have gotten worse for my family and me. For starters, the pandemic took place and forced all of us to hide in our houses for months. Then, I lost my job when the company could no longer pay its employees, while my husband’s job only had him working for three out of six days a week. But the mother of our worries rooted back from when a psychiatrist said that my three-year-old son, Jaren, had low-functioning autism.
Most parents would often claim that their kids were special, but I was among those few individuals who did not want to admit that my child had been extra special from the beginning.
Our Family Journey
The signs of low-functioning autism began to manifest in my son from an early age of three. Since my husband and I both had full-time jobs, I left Jaren at the daycare center on our ground floor. It was a seemingly easy setup, to be honest. I would drop my child off at the daycare around 8 A.M., visit him during my lunchtime, and pick him up at 4 P.M. after work.
However, after a month of following that routine, the kind teacher at the center pulled me to the side one day, saying she wanted to talk to me about Jaren. I thought she would tell me that he’s a prodigy at something, but her careful words took me off guard.
The teacher said, “Mrs. Jefferson, you have a sweet and gentle boy. He doesn’t make a mess like other kids and merely does as he’s told. Unfortunately, I need to suggest bringing Jaren to a child psychologist because he hasn’t been speaking at all.”
Like a mama bird, I initially wanted to curse the teacher and tell her to mind her own business. After all, no parent would be fond of hearing that there was possibly something wrong with their beloved child. That’s especially true for me since Jaren was our only son, and he was perfect in my eyes. But I closed my eyes and counted up to ten and thought that his teacher was merely concerned about his welfare.
After scheduling an appointment with a child psychologist and doing a few tests on Jaren, we found out that he was autistic.
Protecting My Son From The World
My husband and I couldn’t help but cry after the mental health professional revealed the sad news. Although there was no question about the endless support we would give to our son, we knew that Jaren’s life won’t always be easy. The older he became, the more he would come across narrow-minded people who might not understand his condition.
The first thing I suggested was to homeschool Jaren for the rest of his life. I assumed that that was the best way to protect him from the world and the haters that live in it. Despite that, my husband argued that we could shield him from anything by letting him live like a normal kid. Granted, Jaren would have to take special education classes, but he could be around other people often, which would help improve his social and communication skills.
I eventually agreed to my husband’s idea. More than anyone else, I wished for my son not to be defined by his mental health condition. He could still try to achieve any dream he might have, and his dad and I would forever have his back. Nonetheless, I had to add a few rules that my husband thankfully agreed with.
Not Letting The Boy Play Alone Outside
The ultimate rule was to keep Jaren from playing outside on his own, even if it’s just in our fenced backyard. The paranoia might come from the countless kidnapping movies I watched, but there was no harm in reducing the risk of that ever happening.
Saying No To Sleepovers Without Either Of Us
Many parents in my child’s daycare center had been introducing sleepovers to their kids, but I was not 100% into it. The only time that Jaren could try that was if it took place in our home, and my husband or I was present. This way, we could ensure that our son was cared for very well.
Enrolling The Child To Self-Defense Classes
Again, it’s perhaps my paranoid brain talking, but I encouraged my spouse to let our son take self-defense classes. While it was a challenge for him to follow instructions quickly, I figured that taking him there every week for as long as possible would do him some good.
Finding out that your only son had low-functioning autism was the most significant blow in our family. No one expected this diagnosis, so we were unable to prepare ourselves for it mentally and emotionally. Still, we will always love Jaren, so we will try our best to protect him from everything that might endanger his life.