Dear self,

Hi. 

It’s me . . . well, you . . . it’s you from the future.

I wanted to talk you through some things, and I know you’re the only person you’ll listen to right now, so here goes.

You’re worried about your son. He’s two right now, and he still doesn’t talk. He cries and screams a lot. He doesn’t seem to play very well, and his sleeping habits are atrocious. He really struggles when you try to go out in public, and people tend to stare and judge when that happens.  

I know all of this is really, really hard right now. I know you cry. A lot. 

I also know that you worry. You wonder what is wrong with him. You wonder if things will ever get better. You beat yourself up, wondering if you’re doing enough and if there’s anything else you could try. You wonder if you’ll ever hear his voice. You hope he will play with his brother someday. 

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Well, let me share a few things with you.

He will be diagnosed with autism.  

By the time you get to that point, the diagnosis won’t really come as shock to you. 

You’ll find a therapy that works for himapplied behavior analysis (ABA). It will be a game-changer for him.  

He will start to talk at the age of four. He will also start to sleep through the night. Hallelujah. 

He will start to play with his brother at the age of five.

By six, you’ll hear him say things like, “Mommy,” “Love you so much,” and “Smell my poop.”

I know, right now, autism sounds like such a scary word. I want to tell you this: that label changes nothing about our boy. He is still the same loving little boy he’s always been. He is so smart, too, just wait until he is able to show it. He even learned to read at five! I know that’s very hard for you to believe right now, but it’s true (I’d never lie to you).

I know you feel like you have so much to teach him. It feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs done.

But here’s the thinghe will end up teaching you so much more than you’ll ever teach him.

He will teach you to slow down and really see the beauty in thingslike watching water trickle over rocks in a small stream.

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You will learn about compassion and how important it is to love and meet people where they are. 

You’ll learn the delicate balance of pushing and encouraging to help him be the best possible version of himself . . . all the while not changing who he is as a person.  

He will teach you to celebrate every hard-earned victory because nothing should be taken for granted. 

He will show you that love needs no words.

He will teach you that different is beautiful.

He will make you more understanding and accepting of others’ differences. 

From him, you’ll learn you don’t have to have all the answers . . . but you’ll find them, together. 

He will show you that happiness truly does come from within.

You’ll learn you were never actually afraid of autism, but rather the unknowns that often come with such a diagnosis.  

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You’ll finally come to the realization that everything happens for a reason, and God has a purpose for it all. 

He will teach you that our greatest trials often become our greatest testimonies.

And before you say it, you’re right. You’re not prepared for the journey ahead, but that’s OK. You’ve got the cutest tour guide, and we’re all going to be OK.  

Deidra Darst

Deidra Darst, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and autism mom. She is an advocate, author, and shares her family's journey at www.theslpmom.com.\She can be found on Facebook and Instagram @theSLPmom