autistic todlerWhen my autistic little sweetheart was born a couple weeks earlier than expected weighing a healthy 7 lbs 4 oz, I had no idea what that new little guy of mine was going to teach me about life and love. I am blessed.

I remember when I was in the hospital loving and adoring my new baby, he was perfectly adorable in every way just as my other three children were. He had fat little cheeks and a tiny pointy chin, an itty bitty nose and fat little thighs. He was my adorable little chipmunk.

When I brought him home from the hospital I began to feel differently about him. He was a “special” kind of different but I couldn’t put my finger on it and I certainly didn’t understand it. I just knew, he was “special.” He never really cried much unless the house was too chaotic or it was bath time. He was very happy to be alone in his swing or his bed, and didn’t really like much fuss. He was so…different.

At 20 months we received the diagnoses: Autism.

Yesterday was a beautiful Sunday here and the kids were outside playing, my toddler with his 4 year old sister riding power wheels and my 7 year old wandering around pestering daddy. My toddler was giggling hysterically with the silliest giggle that warmed my heart. I didn’t pay much mind to how he was giggling, I was just happy that he could feel so much happiness and excitement.

Standing in the kitchen fixing dinner my husband says “I feel so sad for him” referring to our special little guy. I was curious and asked why, and he says “because the way he was giggling, he really did sound like he has some retardation. It makes me so sad,” and I stood there stunned silent. I hadn’t noticed, I hadn’t seen it.

*sigh* My husband was right. He did sound a little off, and his emotions appeared to be stronger than he was able to cope with and his responses were not quite normal. It hit me then and there at just how special my little toddler is. While he is fighting with all these problems he has coping with various situations and various events, he can still laugh. He was laughing.

In that very moment my husband was able to define our son’s disability as he saw it and expressed how much it hurt him. In my own moment of clarity I realized that he may have a disability, but he certainly defines “special” in every giggle, kiss, hug, and smile he gives me every single day of his precious and amazing life.

I have been blessed to finally have a perfectly clear understanding that I had never had before of what it means to have a special needs child. It does not make me sad and it does not tear me apart, it makes me smile to know that god trusted me with such a special little guy.

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.