*All the names and characters in this story are fictive. This story is written to increase awareness about Autism and to encourage people to be mindful when they meet someone who has Autism.*
I remembered how happy I was when I learned that I was pregnant. I was married at 35 years old, and my in-laws were worried that I would have difficulty to conceive a child. My marriage itself is kind of outside the norm in our Asian culture, mainly because I am married to a guy who is four years younger than I am. My husband is a loving guy who treats me equally. He allows me to work and do things that I like to do. In short, our marriage is a happy marriage.
I gave birth to a cute baby boy at 36 years old. We named him Jeremiah, and we celebrated his presence by throwing a fantastic party. Jeremiah grew healthy, and his milestone was on track. At 2 years old, I noticed something odd with Jeremiah. His speech skills seemed to regress. He used to wave and call me “Mama,” but his words were disappeared. We took him to a child psychologist and were advised to take ADOS test. The psychologist suspected that Jeremiah might have Autism. I cried when she said that, but I braved myself to take the test. Four weeks later, it was confirmed that Jeremiah had mild Autism. I cried every night for about a week. I tried to tell myself the result was wrong, but I also recognized that he lost his speech and he became avoidance. Our daily schedules were changed ever since we found out that Jeremiah had Autism. Therapists were coming in to our house and we also transported Jeremiah to see another therapist outside home. I signed up for ABA courses. I even attempted to put Jeremiah on a strict diet. However, my husband was against this idea. He said we better kept him in behavioral therapies instead of strict diet.
Jeremiah started to talk a bit at four years old. We were able to put him in a regular school, though it was a hard work. My husband used everything he could do to keep Jeremiah in school. We demanded his school to give Jeremiah extra lessons to catch up missing work. It was an exhausting process, but we would not give up for Jeremiah.
Bad words about me started to show up, as soon as people learned about Jeremiah’s Autism. They blamed me for bringing bad genes. I wanted to smack them, but I knew it wasn’t appropriate. Jeremiah knew when I was sad. He would come and hugged me tightly. He said “It’s ok, Mommy.” When the school called me to inform that Jeremiah had a hard time in the classroom, he would look at me with teary eyes and said “Sorry, Mommy.” Parents who did not know about Jeremiah’s diagnosis often blamed me for not teaching rules to him. However, parents whose children also have special needs, though it is not Autism, understood my situation. We made a group chat via WhatsApp, and we shared tips. This group chat has supported me to survive and raise Jeremiah. I deeply thank my husband who against all odds and difficulties, he is always on my side.
Jeremiah is 17 years old now. He will graduate from high school next June. We are not sending him to a college. Instead, we bring a teacher in to teach him baking and cooking. Jeremiah loves baking cookies. Ever since he was young, he enjoyed watching Food Network and asked me to buy ingredients so that he could bake and cook. We plan to sharpen his skills and hope that he could earn money through baking and cooking. Through Jeremiah, I learn how to love unconditionally. He is teaching me to forgive those who talk bad about us. Jeremiah is a loving child. His Autism does not stop him from being a lovable person and most importantly do not block him from pursuing his passion.