Spectrum – About this Series

by Nikki

The ultrasound technician lied to us.

Prone on the examining table with the husband beside me, belly covered in goopy gel, we had just been told that the 20-or-so-week baby inside was a boy. It made me weepy, which isn’t really characteristic. I felt overwhelmed and happy.

We had a few moments earlier told the tech that the little bugger inside had a sister, approaching two years old, waiting for him to arrive. So, after delivering the XY-chromosome news, she said something congratulatory and nice about how we had “a perfect little family going on.”

I remember it because I instantly felt that way, too. The perfect, nuclear family. Not lopsided, like my childhood with three sisters and no brothers. (Love you, girls!) Nope, this would be evenly distributed. Perfect in every way. Soccer games and ballet practice. Somebody would play the guitar and someone the piano. Life would be a veritable Disneyland commercial.

Around 12 months, that changed. Worry set in (mostly for me) because Hayes hadn’t really uttered a word. By 18 months, he was being evaluated by the state and was granted weekly speech therapy. Just before age 3, we got the diagnosis I’d known in my heart long before: autism. Somewhat mild on the spectrum.

So, yeah, I say with sarcasm that the pleasant technician lied to us that day. Heck, maybe even jinxed us. And while I’m trying to be funny – this is me, trying – I of course don’t even come close to meaning it. Life with Hayes can be challenging. But I love him, we love him, and we don’t want a do-over. We are in this together. We laugh every day, we wrestle, we cuddle, we learn from each other. He is sweet and affectionate and rambunctious and so smart.

A variety of platitudes could be offered in answer to the whole perfection dream. Ones like, “You wouldn’t have wanted a flawless life, anyway – how boring!”

That’s true, of course, though I’m ashamed to say I still catch creeping thoughts that mourn what might have been. Mostly I’m getting on with it and being as proactive as possible. I’m a big believer in connecting with resources and that’s what this series attempts to do – to connect families with information and anecdotes that might help their daily lives. If you get practical information you need and I can take a lesson from you at the same time, that’s the whole idea. There are so many clinical experts and so many everyday experts (read: parents) to tap for ideas.

Thousands and thousands of our kids are out there and we’re not as alone as we once might have been. Let’s love our kids, learn from each other and open a few minds, if we can. Sounds pretty perfect to me.