By Leia Holley
As he takes my hand and pulls me toward the swing, I see the hunger in his blue-green eyes. I feel my heart melt and my world change. My heart is full yet breaking at the same moment. He is communicating with me, yet we are the only ones who seem to understand our secret language. I struggle to fight back tears as I feel the isolation of this moment. Are we really alone? Are we the only ones?
My fingers slowly dial the phone as I search for someone anyone who lives within ?our world?. The voice calm, understanding, compassionate; wait did she say there were others? Yes! As she repeats her words the tears begin to cascade down my face. “We can match you with another parent in your area, whose child also has autism,” Bonni said.
The hours seem like years as I wait for the call, the call from someone whose been there! I can’t believe my ears — Mary’s daughter is five and although she has autism she is a part of her family, her community and her school.
Just a few months earlier the pediatric neurologist told us our then 25-month old son, “would never again talk, have normal eye contact or be a functioning member of our family. Prepare to place him in a home before he’s a teen.”
I knew in my heart she was wrong, yet until the phone rang and Mary said, “Kaylynn used to do that also” my mind kept saying we were alone.
Mary and I watched our children grow, learn and play, we shared stories of dreams lost and of hopes for the future. We shared the “little steps”, “He drank from a straw!” “He gave me five!” “He slept through the night!” “He took a bubble bath.” Mary understood the significance of these moments.
My world began to expand as I watched Mary, Kaylynn and their family. Knowing we were not alone, enabled our family to soar. We didn’t hide. We cherished each moment, each day and each smile.
That simple call, that Parent-to-Parent match changed my life. Families Together’s Parent-to-Parent program was the light at the beginning of a wonderful journey with our son, Sean, who has autism.
Since that day seven years ago, I have volunteered as a supporting parent many times. Through the gift of time and compassion, I have shared the heartache and joy of raising a child with a disability. I have had the privilege of joining many families on their journey through the world of disabilities.
Three years ago my husband’s job transferred him to another part of the state. Again Parent-to-Parent was there. By talking with parents in the area who had experienced the local special education system, we were able to find the perfect home for our family. Where Sean’s needs could best be met.
If I had to do it over again my first call would be to Families Together and their Parent-to-Parent program. They truly understood “our secret language.”