Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

Before I knew it was autism, I wondered what was wrong.

Why didn’t you look at me when I said your name? Could you hear? Did you understand what I was saying to you? Is this something you’ll outgrow? As a speech-language pathologist, did I just “know too much” and read into things more than I should have?

Before I knew it was autism, I worried about you.

Why didn’t you babble like babies are supposed to do? Why weren’t you talking?  Would things get better? Would you be OK? 

Before I knew it was autism, I was scared.

What is wrong with my baby? Why does everything seem to be so hard? Would things just click for you one day, or would everything always be a struggle? Would you ever learn new things? Could you learn?  

Before I knew it was autism, I questioned myself.

Did I do something wrong to cause your delays? Was this all my fault? What was I missing? Clearly, it was me, and I needed to do more to help you. What did you need? Why wasn’t I enough?

Before I knew it was autism, I wondered if it was autism.

Were you on the spectrum? I hoped and prayed notthis was my greatest fear. Autism was the one thing I just knew I could not handle. Surely it was just a delay . . . no, you had sensory issues . . . maybe it was just sensory processing disorder . . . but what if it is autism? No, it couldn’t be . . . but what if it is?

RELATED: Dear Autism, You Have Changed More Than Just My Child’s Life

Before I knew it was autism, I thought I could fix everything.

I knew you needed more than you were getting. I quit my job to stay home with you.  If we just worked hard enough, you would make improvements . . . we could do this . . . you would be OK. I triedbut I wasn’t enough.

Before I knew it was autism, the unknown was eating away at me.

My worries and fears for your future were almost debilitating. Occasionally, the worry would build up inside me and explode into a near panic-state. What is wrong with my baby? What is it? Why is this happening? Why? Why? WHY?!

Then the tears would come. I’d cry because I was scared. I’d cry because I was sad. I would cry because I just didn’t have answers.

Before I officially knew it was autism . . . I knew it was autism. 

I knew. I felt it deep down before I was really able to admit out loud. I knew you needed an official diagnosis in order to get the help you needed. So, it was official:  my 3-year-old son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  

Once I knew it was autism, I cried.

My worst fear for you, for our family . . . it had happened. I had the official scores to prove it, and those scores hurt my heart in a way I couldn’t explain. Autism was real and it was going to be a part of our lives forever. What would that mean for you? For your future? For your brother’s future and our future as your parents? Could I do this? Would I be enough for you? 

Once I knew it was autism, I was relieved.

Knowing . . . just the knowing of it made it easier. I had an answer. A cause. A reason.  An explanation. A justification. A why. A diagnosis. Having a diagnosisan answerled to a plan. Steps I could put into action to finally get you what you needed.  

RELATED: Dear Autism Mom, You Are a Warrior

Now that I know it’s autism, I still worry. I worry about how the world will treat you. I worry about people misunderstanding you and mistreating you. I worry about the day I’m no longer here to take care of you. 

Now that I know it’s autism, I still question things. Am I doing enough to help you? Am I giving you everything you need to be the best version of yourself? Am I giving you everything you need to live a happy life? Am I doing enough to change the world, to teach them about autism, to show everyone just how amazing and wonderful you truly are? As your mother, am I giving it my all to create the world I so badly want you to live in? One where people appreciate your differences, understand and accept you, support you, and celebrate your victories?

Now that I know it’s autism, I also know a lot of other things.

I know an autism diagnosis isn’t the end of the world like I once thought it would be. It was merely the official start of a new journey, a fork in the road where we took the path less traveled. This is not the life I planned, but it’s still a life I’m proud of and excited to live with you.

I know that autism isn’t scary. Are there unknowns? Yes. Are those unknowns frightening? Absolutely. But you are amazing. You and your autism don’t scare me one bit.

You and your brother are the best things in my life, and I love you for all that you are and all that you ever will be.  

I know I’m willing to fight for you. I’ll step up, be that mom, and make others uncomfortable if I have to. I’ve learned I don’t have to do it all or be enough by myself. I know you have the best tribe on your side, and we are all in this together.

RELATED: Becoming a Special Needs Parent Was Unexpected—But So is My Strength As a Mother

I know an autism diagnosis didn’t change you. You are smart, silly, sweet, and lovable. You are still the same perfect little boy you’ve always beena diagnosis didn’t change that one bit. Did I plan to have a child with autism? No, but I read this quote today and it spoke to me:  

“It’s a funny thing, how much time we spend planning our lives. We so convince ourselves of what we want to do, that sometimes we don’t see what we’re meant to do,” Susan Gregg Gilmore, Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen

Before I knew it was autism, so many questions, unknowns, and fears filled my thoughtsall with one main concern, would you be OK?

Now I know it’s autism, and guess what? You’re OK. We are all OK. I know that now.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

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

Always Choose Adventure

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Two children looking at aquarium exhibit, color photo

Here’s the thing about traveling with little kids. Is it hard? Sometimes. Sometimes it looks like a whole carry-on dedicated solely to snacks, activities, and emergency treats. Sometimes it looks like buying a drink for the passenger next to you as a way of saying sorry and thank you all at the same time for the airplane kid chaos they endured. Sometimes it looks like altering your picture-perfect itinerary that you meticulously planned on account of missed naps finally catching up. Sometimes it looks like washing a car seat off in a hotel shower because your toddler got carsick, then...

Keep Reading

Love Beyond Words

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother hugging daughter

My daughter Lexi lost her words and some of her motor functioning when she was two years old. She was three when the silent intruder of Rett Syndrome made itself known through seizures. But here’s the heart of our story: even without words, Lexi and I have created our own language—a symphony of unspoken love. She may not call me “Mom” in the traditional sense, but her eyes, her laughter, and the unique sounds she makes speak volumes to my heart. Each day with Lexi is a dance—one where the steps aren’t always clear, and the rhythm can change in...

Keep Reading

Daddy, Am I Beautiful?

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Daddy holding preschool-aged daughter, color photo

“Daddy, do I look beautiful?” I heard my daughter ask my husband from the other room. I barely heard what she said as I was in the kitchen washing the dishes, but her words struck a chord in my heart. My sweet girl, all dressed to go out, asked for her Daddy’s assurance that she was beautiful, that she was admired and special. It hit me in that moment: this pure and built-in desire we all have to be loved, admired, and wanted. Just as my sweet girl wanted her Daddy’s approval and assurance of love, I so often cry...

Keep Reading

Sensitive Sons Are Strong Too

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boy pets kitten held by another older boy

My son has always been timid. When he was a baby, he cried when he lost his pacifier in his crib. If I laughed too loudly, he might burst into tears. Once, he was asleep in his bassinet as my husband and I turned on a movie. The MGM lion roared, and he woke in a panic that seemed to take forever to calm. Now, at five years old, my son wrestles, runs, fights, and screams at the television. He pretends to fight bad guys and save me and his twin sister. He thinks he is the king of the...

Keep Reading

Wrestle Like a Girl

In: Kids, Motherhood
Girls wrestling team huddling on the floor

I’m a wrestling mom, but I’m a new breed. I’m the kind with my little girl on the mat. Sure, I support our son out there, and I scream like a wild banshee with the rest of the crazy parents, and I’m in awe of the athletes these boys are. But then steps out our daughter. And it’s different. She decided to join her big bro at practice years ago when word was just starting to spread about the possible emergence of girls’ wrestling. She was only in kindergarten, but I think my husband might have already been thinking college....

Keep Reading

I’ll Hold on To Moments of Childhood with My Preteen as Long as I Can

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Smiling preteen and mother

This Christmas season, my husband took our laser light projector and aimed it at the Australian bottle tree in the front yard. It shone like a thousand red and green fairies dancing through the branches. The first time I saw it, I gasped with glee. Christmas came and went. Much to our 6-year-old’s disappointment, we took down the decorations and boxed them in the attic until next year. I noticed that my husband forgot to put away the light projector though. One Friday night, recovering from a stomach bug, we decided to watch Wonka and fold laundry. We bought into the...

Keep Reading

“Tell Me Another Story, Daddy?”

In: Kids
Man reading to young son

“Tell me another story, Daddy?” I had heard these words since we had finished supper. My 5-year-old son loves hearing stories. He loves to put himself in these stories. He doesn’t just watch Paw Patrol, he’s in Paw Patrol. He is a Kratt brother. And he loves hearing stories about his favorite adventurers with him saving the day alongside his animated heroes. While I absolutely love telling stories to my son, there are many days when I don’t feel like it. When I want to say, “No, Daddy is tired. Why don’t you go play with your toys while daddy...

Keep Reading

Getting Glasses Can be an Adjustment

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Pre-teen wearing glasses

On their last break from school, my daughter and son happily enjoyed a nice week of catching up with friends and having a relaxed schedule. I was careful to avoid overloading our schedule so we had a nice balance of days out and days being at home. As can often happen on a school break, I used one day as our “appointments day.” We had our routine dental checks and eye exams booked. The morning went smoothly with the dentist, and then it was time to head home for lunch. Next, we popped back out to do the children’s eye...

Keep Reading

To the Fifth Grade Parents: Thank You

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Arcade style photo machine, color photo

To the fifth-grade parents in my community: How are we here already? The end of fifth grade. The end of elementary school. It feels like yesterday we saw each other at kindergarten drop off, some of us through the tears of sending our first baby to school, some seasoned pros, and a small group of us with a touch of extra worry in our mama hearts—the special ed mamas. Among the many things I worried about sending my kindergarten son to school was how your children would treat him. Would they laugh at him like they did at his Montessori...

Keep Reading

Dear Child, You Are Not Responsible for How Anyone Else Feels about You

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Teen girl looking in the mirror putting on earrings

Dear kiddo, I have so many dreams for you. A million hopes and desires run through my mind every day on a never-ending loop, along with worries and fears, and so, so much prayer. Sometimes, it feels like my happiness is tied with ropes of steel to yours. And yet, the truth is, there are times you disappoint me. You will continue to disappoint me as you grow and make your own choices and take different paths than the ones I have imagined for you. But I’m going to tell you a secret (although I suspect you already know): My...

Keep Reading