Once upon a time, there was a woman who was at a crossroads in her life. She was sad and depressed. She knew she wasn’t herself; something was missing from her life. Then things changed. She got pregnant and had a daughter. Her daughter was the most beautiful baby, with skin like a porcelain doll. Time went on, and this woman started to notice things weren’t quite right with her precious baby girl. She would not speak. She would not play with her peers. She would throw massive tantrums and have severe crying fits. The woman felt helpless. Eventually, she sought help and learned her daughter had pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), a form of autism. That woman, of course, was me.
Once I discovered my daughter’s diagnosis, I researched everything that I could about autism. I was shocked by how little I knew about the developmental disorder.
Once my daughter reached school age, my husband and I placed her in a specialized nursery school where we felt she could get the supports she needed to succeed. The school was a tremendous help – my daughter received speech, occupational and physical therapies.
When it came time to start kindergarten at a new school, people warned that the transition could have a regressive impact on her. After her first four months at her new school, it became clear that she would need additional supports. I fought hard to ensure my daughter received all the necessary services she needed to be successful. My persistence paid off! My husband and I found her a special support group for social interactions, a classroom aide, and placement into an Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) classroom.
Our success was empowering but I felt compelled to do more. When I would talk to others about my daughter, they were inspired. This revelation prompted me to return to writing and share my experiences with other parents of children on the spectrum. I started blogging and authored a book about raising a daughter with autism. My daughter’s face lit up when she discovered I wrote a book about her. The most magical thing happened when she read it – she asked about autism. We never had that conversation; I hadn’t planned on it. However, I explained it to her. I told her autism made her unique and was the cause of the special things she sometimes does.
She smiled. “So, autism makes me a super-hero. I’m like Wonder Woman, right mommy? Are you going to write more?”
I responded, “You bet your little heart I am! Forever and ever, I will write. As long as it takes, I will continue to tell your story.”
One thing is certain, had it not been for the birth of my daughter, I don’t know where I would be today. Fighting for my daughter gives me a new sense of purpose. My mission is to help and educate others. To be an ear, and voice, if need be.
S.C. Bracco blogs about her experiences as an autism mom for the Autism Society. She lives in New York with her husband, son and daughter. S.C. authored a children’s book about a little girl with autism and is currently writing two additional novels.