My eldest son Charlie was diagnosed with autism at age 2, and it was the first time our family was thrown into this world of “spectrum disorders”, therapies, special diets and a changed life, forever. This past weekend, Charlie turned 7 years old.
Charlie started 1st grade last week at a private school (no longer in special ed!) and his bravery and incredible soul make me so proud of him every single day. As some of you know, there was a time when Charlie was non-verbal, had tantrums and screamed all day, didn’t relate to anyone or anything around him, and was completely off in another world.
We felt as though we had lost a child, we couldn’t take him anywhere, and with a newborn at home as well, I was completely isolated as I tried so hard to reach Charlie. To connect to him. Even if it was in his world, I never gave up just trying to be near his heart. He was the most severe spectrum kid of our three boys (even though they are all at different stages now), and he has come the farthest. As long as we keep up our horse and pony show, he does amazingly well. He is the poster child for early intervention for autism, and I look back at these years parenting him and I can’t believe all that we’ve done and how far we’ve come.
He is, simply put, a miracle child.
The same diet restrictions as his brother, the party this weekend included special pancakes, special bacon, and special brownies as the “cake”, with special gummy bears melted onto each piece. We had our family around us, we celebrated health and progress and thanked God for another perfect birthday.
For his birthday this year, Charlie really wanted a bike. A big boy bike. I have no idea when kids typically ride bikes (with no training wheels!) but I figured he could have a bike and work on learning how to ride over the course of the next few weeks. Charlie surprised us all by learning in about 20 minutes flat.
I took some video right after he had the bike thing down pat — I can’t even believe my eyes when I watch this video and think about how far this sweet boy has come. Him riding a bike, him SMILING non-stop. Boom goes my heart.
He used to never smile. He used to never see me.
Now he sees me.
How the world bursts at the seams with joy for this boy! I can’t watch this without crying. Happy birthday Char Char!