Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

The day you received your diagnosis, it was no surprise to me. 
Most would say it was a long time coming. 

Some would say we did things backward. 

You see, you have been stubborn since the day you were born. Literally. You took your sweet time despite the fact I was induced. So much so, the doctor was ready to take me in for an emergency C-section because you did not want to cooperate. You were given a deadline, and if that was not met, I no longer had a choice. They were going to intervene.

Little did I know, that was just the beginning of the never-ending deadlines we would be given for you. The running joke is that you are a Heffner. It is in your blood; you’re stubborn like your daddy.

You took your sweet time to start crawling. Why wouldn’t you? You had Mom, Dad, and Sissy at your beck and call. 

The doctor told us if you were not walking by 18-months, we should have further evaluations done. 

Two days before that 18-month mark, low and behold, you walked across the living room at Grandma’s house, with an audience, to get a piece of cheese. 

So we waited. 

We went through early intervention.

We waited again. You would make just enough strides to keep us on our toes guessing what the next move should be. After all, you were just being stubborn, right? 

In the beginning, autism was never brought up. I knew little about the topic.

We knew your cousin has autism, but you two seemed so different. How could that be? 

RELATED: To the Mother I Was Before Autism

One night I was scrolling through my Facebook, and I saw an ad for a company hiring ABA technicians—paid training, flexible schedules. I was already working full time, but for some reason, I was intrigued.

At this point, your dad and I were working really hard to get on the same page, and we were discussing the prospect of further evaluations to help your development. We decided this was a good way for us to be more educated, and to see if this was something we should investigate further. 

So, I applied. I was offered the job, and I enthusiastically accepted. After all, it was an opportunity to be educated and bring in a little extra income. Why not?

I started my training.

I sat and learned.

I also started to slowly sink into my seat. 

The signs were all there. Everything.

I knew it was time. 

I talked to my boss, who also had a child on the spectrum, for recommendations on places to get an evaluation done.

At this point, there was no doubt in my mind. My sweet and stubborn boy has autism. 

How did I not know sooner?

I’m his mom, shouldn’t I just automatically know these things? 

I was so sure I was doing the right thing by waiting and letting you figure things out. I guess looking back, I could identify that as denial, and I certainly see it today as a source of regret. I wish I’d seen it sooner.   

I made the call, and the evaluation appointment was set. 

It was no longer a question. I was certain what was coming ahead. It was now a formality that needed to be done to move forward so we could get you the therapies you needed and deserved. 

Three evaluation appointments later, there it was. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder.

I knew it was coming, but the sting was still very raw. Your dad and I will never forget that day. My denial quickly turned into a ready-to-fight stance. 

All the training I had just gone through taught me the signs and how to work with children with autism.

However, I learned nothing about the diagnosis process.

Maybe I still had some of that denial hiding in there as I was trying to hold it together and stay optimistic for what she was about to tell us. Your dad, sitting next to me, asked, “I know it’s a Spectrum. Where does David fall?” 

She paused.

RELATED: It’s OK to Grieve an Autism Diagnosis

This doctor was good. She so very gently responded, “While I couldn’t get a full assessment due to the lack of language, David is not mildly autistic. He, at the very least, is on the severe end of moderate autism.”

I took a deep breath, and I swallowed hard the lump in my throat. There it wasI’d heard what I needed to.

Through the quiver in my voice, I asked, “What is next?” Then, I got my pen and paper lined up and started scribbling as fast as I could, writing down everything she rattled off. 

Speech therapy.

Occupational therapy.

ABA therapy.

We left the office, and as we walked out, your dad and I instantly switched places. He immediately felt the grief of what we were just told; I was ready to go to battle. It was time to get down to business. 

Maybe it was the guilt in me for waiting so long to get to this point. Now I felt as though we were so far behind.

Maybe it was the mama bear in me ready to get down to business

I suited up, and I was now ready to attack the stacks and stacks of notes I had taken. I started making the phone calls to get the ball rolling. 

Everywhere your dad and I called, we heard the same thing, “We’ll put you on the waiting list, and we’ll give you a call if anything changes.” 

Then, we found a place that had an opening. They were close. They had a center. They did social ABA. It sounded too good to be true, and it was. Paperwork had been signed, and we were beginning the scheduling process only to get a call that one of the BCBAs quit, and they no longer had a place for you. We were absolutely heartbroken. Now what?

We kept working. We were not going to give up on you.  

We finally found a company we loved for you, and we knew it was the right fit from day one.

No matter how much research I did, no one could prepare me for all of the heart-wrenching evaluations that followed the diagnosis to get you into therapies. And then every six months thereafter, to get a re-approval for insurances. We have to prove that you deserve help. Everything constantly focuses on what you CAN’T do.

No one on this journeybut usever puts focus on what you CAN do.  

I couldn’t be more proud than I am today to watch you grow.

RELATED: My Son Has Autism — But I’m Still Raising Him To Be Independent

Right now, you’re in a stage I refer to as “verbal but not conversational.” You can tell me what food you want to eat, or what movie you want to watch. However, you can’t tell me how your day was or how you’re feeling. Those are struggles for both of us right now, but we know they’re temporary.  

You amaze me every day.

You have a determination like no one I have ever seen.

You walk around with not a care in the world about how people look at you.  

That is something I truly admire so much about you and wish I could learn to do. I struggle with it daily. 

You are smart.

You are funny.

I wish so badly so many people would look past the autism, see past the behaviorsthe meltdowns, the stimmingand get to know the amazing kid you are. 

They have so much to learn, just like I did.

You have taught me so much, and you have truly made me a better person.

You have taught me patience.

You have taught me to slow down, breathe, and appreciate the small stuff. 

I share your story because it is my hope that doing so will bring awareness. Maybe educate even just one more person about the autism world and to bring those who don’t understand to a level of understanding that allows them to accept you for who you are. 

To help one parent who may be where I was, not that long ago.

Because, kid, you will move mountains.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Trista Heffner

Trista is a wife and mother of two.  Her son was diagnosed with autism at age 5. She lives in Wisconsin where she works full-time from home. She enjoys spending time with her family, large amounts of coffee, and blogging as a way to share their journey with others. 

I Don’t Belong In the Baby Section Anymore

In: Motherhood

I don’t belong here anymore. The thought crept into my mind today as I stood in the baby section. I was there to grab a gift for an expecting friend, but as I looked around at the old familiar shelves, I was hit with a wave of emotion.  Because it’s true—I don’t belong here anymore. There was a time when this aisle was my most frequented on trips to Target. As a pregnant twentysomething with a growing belly, I would hold up outfit after outfit and wonder what our baby would look like. Who would he or she be? As...

Keep Reading

To the Parents Raising My Child’s Future Spouse

In: Faith, Motherhood
Little boy lying on car seat with puppy, color photo

Oh, hey there friend, you don’t know me yet or maybe you do, but at least for now neither of us know that our children will one day commit their lives to each other and by doing so forever knit our families together. One day, we will all sit in the front aisles of a church filled with scores of people who have influenced our babies, but none like us. No one else in that church will know the intentionality, love, and grace of God that it took to reach that day, but we will. The work you are doing...

Keep Reading

Loving Mom (Thanks, Amazon)

In: Grief, Living, Motherhood
Woman and mother smiling, color photo

I was online, searching old Amazon orders for a part we’d bought for our 1998 Buick Regal. The car was Mom’s. She’d given it up at 86 after I said her grandsons would be grateful to use it. She’d laughed with delight as Gabe, newly licensed, pulled away from her place in her Buick, heading home to California. It was a good car, but the original parts were wearing out. That’s why I scrolled through my orders, to see which window pulley assembly we’d purchased last time. As I scrolled, I was struck by all the gifts I’d ordered for...

Keep Reading

Supporting Your Teen through Freshman Year

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom and teen boy

Growing up I remember seeing Ms. Honey in the movie Matilda and thinking teaching must be a magical job if Ms. Honey could do it so effortlessly. This image of dancing with my students, heart-to-heart conversations, and the perfectly curated teacher outfit always stuck in my mind. When I decided to become a teacher, my original goal was to teach elementary. I wanted to be that driving force that helped those pudgy little hands learn how to write, sing at the top of their lungs about the seasons, and be there to help with scraped knees. Over the years I...

Keep Reading

Donna Kelce Is Living the Boy Mom Dream: Her Two Sons Will Face Off in the NFL’s Biggest Game

In: Living, Motherhood
Donna Kelce in split Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs jersey

How many millions of brothers have grown up playing football against each other in their backyards? It’s impossible to know, really—but if you had brothers or are raising boys, you’ve probably seen a few of those pick-up games yourself.  Sometimes, the little boys tossing around the pigskin grow up to realize the dream of playing in the NFL. In Donna Kelce’s case, that dream became a reality times two: son Jason Kelce plays center for the Philadelphia Eagles, and son Travis Kelce is a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs. And in two weeks time, those two teams—and Donna’s...

Keep Reading

You’re the Kind of Teacher Who Brings Out the Best in My Child

In: Living, Motherhood
Teacher with student high fiving

Dear Mrs. Izzy, I was a teacher, and I know how challenging busy little boys can be. The energy, the questions, the silliness . . . THE ENERGY. Sometimes they call it “gifted and talented,” sometimes “enriched.” When I taught middle school, it was called “Advanced Social Studies.” Whatever they were calling it, I knew one thing . . . this teacher was not interested in leading it.  People often think these types of classes would be easier on a teacher because the students are so excited about learning. I know the planning, patience, and persistence it takes to lead...

Keep Reading

Spanking Made Us Parents We Didn’t Want To Be

In: Faith, Motherhood
Silhouette of mother pointing finger at child

Fourteen years ago when my husband and I were preparing for our first child, we felt we already had several tools in our toolbox. Both of us worked with children and youth, and we felt prepared for parenting. We decided early on that we would never spank unless we were completely out of options.  As our bright, sweet, bubbly firstborn entered the terrible fours (yes, he was a bit delayed in his toddler rebellion), we were surrounded by a community of people who believed in “controlled spanking” with hugs and grace afterward.  RELATED: These 6 Words Transformed Discipline in Our...

Keep Reading

Let Your Kids See Your Feelings Too

In: Motherhood
Mother and daughter hugging on couch

I’m a mom to two exceptional kids–one with big emotions and one with a big heart. What that looks like in our house is an older child who is prone to outbursts and a younger child who’s always trying to help him through them. As we witness our younger son become more empathetic in response to his brother’s tantrums, we find ourselves constantly worrying that he is feeling overshadowed, relentlessly reassuring him there’s enough room for his feelings too. RELATED: Mothering a Child With Big Emotions is Heavy And what I’ve come to realize is that one of the best...

Keep Reading

Once Upon a Time You Got All of Me

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Husband and wife on wedding day, color photo

First there was us, and now it’s them. We have four little hands that need us, and it’s so hard to get lost in parenthood and forget that at once upon a time it was me and you. I promise you, it won’t always be like this. It won’t always be this hard. I remember when we would go for leisurely walks and long Sunday brunches. Now it takes us an hour to leave the house for a 15-minute walk. I want so badly to spend hours lying in bed, talking like we used to, but now I’m so tired...

Keep Reading

I Was Raised by an Easter-Only Mom and I Want More for My Kids

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and daughter read Bible

Motherhood is not for the faint-hearted, and women tend to look to their upbringing for guidance. We may not even realize we’re doing it! But being a godly mother is even more difficult when you weren’t raised by one. The questions are endless: How do I model forgiveness? How do I set the right priorities for my household? How do I explain baptism to my 6-year-old? Is it okay to have undiscipled friends around my children? Do we have to pray over every meal? Is the occasional swear word acceptable?  These questions may be less intimidating if you were fortunate enough...

Keep Reading