Accepting life as it is
We switched doctor's offices not long ago. The young pediatrician taking our information asked the typical questions... date of last eye exam, last dentist appointment, do we eat healthy, balanced meals at home? Then we reached the "developmental history" part of our conversation. We discussed autism and she began questioning our current therapy protocol. Occupational therapy? Physical therapy? Speech? As I answered "no" to every single question, explaining the only special services my daughter still receives in these areas are during her school day, I could see the doctor try to mask her expression. I'm sure in her years of medical training she was taught that something should be done about each and every issue presented in her office. Delayed speech and poor motor skills should be corrected with therapy and social skill difficulties should be trained away. But in my years of training as the parent of a daughter with autism, I have decided that I am her expert. I am the one to decide when enough is enough, when it's time for life to not revolve around therapy appointments anymore. There was absolutely a day when my mind was spinning with getting her to the best doctors and therapists and finding a way to cart her to occupational therapy then speech therapy, squeezing in an appointment with a vision therapist on our way to a social skills group. But we are not in that place any more. Part of our change in lifestyle came with the passing of time and the accepting of what things can change and what things will not. The rest comes from a change of heart as I realized my daughter probably wanted to go to one more doctors appointment just as much as I did. I informed our new doctor that there would be no more days of therapy. We would be visiting her for colds and flus and school physicals but we wouldn't need any help meeting developmental milestones. We would mostly likely be sitting in our current place on her chart for years to come. Progress is now a bonus in our life, not a necessity.
I think this may be the last phase of acceptance of an autism diagnosis that no one tells you about. The one where you look at your almost grown up child, remember how far she has come and smile at how hard she has worked to get there.