When the child psychologist that was a part of the team evaluating my daughter’s developmental delays disclosed that she saw some red flags for autism, I wasn’t shocked. When I started looking into services for her speech delay and her ridiculously picky eating habits, my research steered me towards that possibility. And even then, I wasn’t scared. I just wanted to make sure I did everything in my power to connect her with whatever she needed to succeed.
It was the stark contrast between her development and her twin sister’s development that let me know there could have been an issue. Ironically, it now meant that I’d have to make a conscious effort to not compare their progress, and make sure that they weren’t comparing themselves to each other either. It was a juggling act to find the balance between not displaying favoritism while giving each uniquely developing two-year-old what they needed. It definitely got easier when my typically developing daughter started understanding and accepting their differences.
It was cute to see how my typically developing daughter started helping her sister with speech and fine motor functions. She even got to a place where she would praise her and tell her “I’m so proud of you!” when her sister would learn a new skill. It warmed my heart as their mom, but I believe it also encouraged my daughter. In spite of her limited speech she didn’t through tantrums in frustration. Add to that an encouraging and patient environment, I felt she was bound to thrive!
My greatest concern for her wasn’t her limitations. In most cases it was my limitations. She didn’t have what her therapist called functional speech, but she was clearly learning. She knew her colors, numbers, letters, animals, as well as being able to identify numerous other things despite her not making request for food or even saying “mommy.” I just wanted to make sure I gave her everything she needed to continue progressing. Making sure she got the right therapy, thorough evaluations, and exposure to environments that would foster her growth was so important to me. Her? She was so carefree. She was so mild-mannered and happy. She seemed to not have a care in the world. I never looked at her a saw frustration in not being able to talk or climb the stairs even when her sister seemed to be doing those things effortlessly. Trying to get her to try the foods that her sister was willing to eat was pointless as she cared nothing about having a “peer model” in the house. The mom that wanted her to do that things that the “typically developing” toddlers were doing was anxiety inducing, but I found so much peace in her, what appeared to be, acceptance of who and where she was. Then I found a new fear.
Who told you that you were naked?
What was going to happen with she entered classrooms, after school programs, camps, dance classes, or other types of social setting where kids start making fun of her differences? What happens when people start to tell her that something is “wrong” with her? What happens when people start to point out the things she should be doing that other kids are doing already? But even worse, what happens if their words start effecting her joy?
The scariest thing for me in this journey isn’t my daughter falling on the autism spectrum. It’s knowing that I will be fighting the battle to make sure she never feels inferior to anyone or anything. It’s making sure she never feels afraid to try anything simply from a fear of inadequacy. It’s the same fear that I have for both of my girls, just intensified.
In Genesis 3:11 God asks Adam “who told you that you were naked?” Adam had always been naked. So was Eve. There weren’t even ashamed of it. Genesis 2:25 made that clear to us. But something happened in between those few verses that caused them to become ashamed, ashamed of the very way God made them.
I don’t want my daughter to encounter the serpents of the world that will try to convince her of the lies that will keep her from knowing her worth. I want her to live her life feeling confident and capable of anything God puts on her heart. The truth is we are all naked. God made us that way. I just pray that my daughters’ beauty is never overshadowed by their individual “nakedness.”
After spending a year in grief counseling, I started to see that my life needed a major overhaul. Yes, my boyfriend died making me the single mom of our infant twins, but I was still grieving my loss of innocence from decades of abuse. I decided to turn my pain into a new purpose and to share this journey with others that may need some motivation.