Your Child Could Be On Our Cover! P.71


The Story


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The story of a mother raising an autistic child

By:Sofia Alejo

M yrna sat in the

doctor's office next to her husband,

waiting for the doctor to

come in with some type of explanation

as to what was going on

with her youngest child, Jose. She

breathed heavily while counting

every individual stitch on the maroon

chair that supported her

heavy soul. She sat there thinking

about all of the other mothers

who sat in that chair, wondering

if they felt as ill as she did at that

very moment. She wondered if all

the other mothers felt their chest

slowly tighten, being compressed

by worry and fear. Her only son,

her little baby, her newest joy--

there was something wrong with

him and she knew it. Myrna, who

also happens to be my mother,

has never been the type of person

to give up easily. My mom is

a warrior. Time and again she's

had to deal with many difficult

battles, specifically raising my

brother, but she’s made it. She’s

come out wounded, but alive.It

was in 2004 when Myrna received

the news that her two

year old son was autistic (Alejo).

Autism is a developmental disorder

that is characterized by social

interaction and communication

deficiencies, and restricted

and repetitive behavior patterns

(Ekas and Whitman 1). It is considered

by many to be the most

severe childhood behavioral disorder

with the most complex developmental

pattern (Altiere and

Von Kluge 1). Doctors, along

with internet findings, bombarded

her with devastating predicaments

of what her future as a

mother raising an autistic child

would hold. She was told that

her and her husband’s relationships

with friends and family

would suffer due to the nature of

their child’s disorder. Their social

life would be restricted in order

to cater their child’s needs. They

even told her that in some cases

parents could eventually be

stuck in a vicious cycle, as the

more severe the symptoms of a

child’s autism, the more stress is

placed on a parent (Glazzard

and Overall 3). Myrna was completely

taken aback with all of

this newly discovered information.

She tried lying to herself

saying that everything would be

okay, but she knew it wouldn’t.

Her son’s life would not be okay

and neither would hers. She felt

like her world was crumbling at

her feet. And all she could think

about out was the hell that her

baby boy would have to go

through (Alejo).

Over the course of the next

few years I saw my family hang

on by a thread. My brother’s diagnosis

did not only change his

life, but changed the lives of the

ones who loved him as well. Every

day was a challenge for my family

that we surely did not embrace.

Going out with my brother

was a dreaded nightmare accompanied

by the intense judgment

of strangers. Whether it

would be to go out to eat or

simply go grocery shopping, we

knew it would be a struggle. Extreme

meltdowns in the middle of

the aisles or loud screams and

sobs at the restaurants along with

dirty looks from others were all we

could ever expect. I could see

my dad’s genuine smile slowly

deteriorate day by day. There

were countless nights where I

heard my mom’s almost silent

sobs through her cracked bedroom

door. My mom, the one

person that always held her head

up high letting nothing stand in

her way, was slowly being consumed.

All the strength I had ever

seen in her was fading away. At

first it seemed like we had lost my

brother, like he would be stuck in

his own little world forever. But

soon I realized that it was my par-

ents who were the ones that

were no longer with me. I had lost

them, my brother and any ounce

of joy that used to fill our home.

Even if Jose was given the best

treatments by experts every single

hour of the day, it would still be difficult.

It would always be difficult

because here was a boy who

would have to depend 100% on

someone else for the rest of his life


The functioning of a family

with a special needs child is subject

to the biggest change social

and somatic areas (Ślifirczyk et al.

8). Myrna’s life along with the lives

of her husband and children had

changed drastically. But once she

was thoroughly aware of everything

having to do with her son’s

condition she decided to get her

family back to normal and started

getting in action (Alejo). Positive

emotions can act as a buffer to

psychological stress and can help

individuals find positive meaning in

stressful situations (Kayfitz et al. 1).

Myrna took that into consideration

and started seeing her son’s disorder

not as a bad thing, but as

something that would strengthen

and motivate her to become a

better mother. Along with her newly

found positive attitude, Myrna

like many mothers in her position

went to go seek help from professionals.

Every person that she met

along the way was kind and bighearted.

Every single doctor,

speech therapist and teacher

helped Jose ultimately better his

life (Alejo). Not only was professional

help important in coping with Jose’s

disorder, but family support

was a key element as well.

“Support is key, especially family

support. That is number

one” (Alejo).

“Despite the hardships that may

be experienced raising a child

with autism, families survive”

(Altiere and Von Kluge 1).

And indeed my family survived.

Once again I finally saw the

strongest woman I have ever

known turn back into a warrior. “It

may seem overwhelming and

many times it will be, but you cannot

get scared. Yes it is an emotionally

bombarding diagnosis,

but you cannot let it scare

you” (Alejo). The first thing a mother

does when receiving her child’s

diagnosis is look up autism on the

internet. The videos, articles and

images that first appear are of

quite possibly the strongest most

severe cases out there. But in reality

every child with autism, every

single one, is different (Alejo).

There are many parents with autistic

children, but all of their expe-

iences raising their children are

very different from

one another (Glazzard and Overall

1). Every autistic child might

have similar characteristics but

they are all different so there are

many different methods, in which

they can learn, from a very common

method to a very specific

one. With long hours of work every

day, it is very much possible to

give an autistic child the opportunity

to move forward in their

lives (Alejo). With the support of

health professionals, family members

and most importantly a positive

attitude, raising a child with

autism and providing them a

better future is something that

can surely be attained. My family

is living proof that no disease or

disorder is strong enough to

break a family apart. A disorder

like this can pull and tug but will

never be able to destroy something

as strong as a family bond.

It has not been an easy journey

and I highly doubt that my brother

will ever be 100% cured, but

we are fighting through it. We

are fighting for a better life for

him and we are getting there.

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