Eight years ago to this day, autism entered our lives. I knew it was coming. It was no surprise. I wasn’t in denial. I felt it. I Googled, and I completed checklist after checklist. I had specific questions for the medical diagnostic team that evaluated him. Will he ever talk? Will he learn? Will he have friends? So many things were unknown at that point. We left the office, went home and got back to work with his therapy schedule. Shortly after, we started dietary protocols and then we added in biomed, homeopathy, etc. Our journey had started . . .
Kale is now 10 years old. He has a twin brother, Jaden. Although I would love to tell you we have reached our goal of recovery and health for our son, we are not quite there yet. Although he is considered beyond that imaginary autism window in age, he is making progress. We continue our fight. We have gotten sidetracked over the years. We have sometimes chosen the wrong path. We have made our share of mistakes. Most importantly, we have embraced this journey. We still have along way to go and a lot of fight left in us.
After Kale’s diagnosis, I went back to school. I got my Master’s degree in special education. My thought was if my son was going to be needing special education services, I was going to know how to fight for everything he needed. My next step was becoming a developmental therapist for Early Intervention. I am currently working with families as they go through the diagnosis process. I am also an autism education advocate. I assist families in getting the services their children require to be successful in the educational setting. I train first responders about autism. I teach educators, administrators and school-based therapists evidence-based strategies for educating children with autism.
All of this is because of that day eight years ago. I had a job that I loved when Kale was diagnosed. I left it after I graduated and became credentialed to work with families who were on the same journey we were. I am able to share our journey with others in order to help the children that are coming up behind us. I am able to share our experiences, failures and successes, with the families I work with.
Would I have chosen this journey for our family? Absolutely NOT. However, it is the journey we are on, and I embrace the change that I can make happen for not only my son, but so many like him. This year, we are moving forward at a pace that I have never felt before. I feel the change, the gains, the goals . . . all of the possibilities are there for us this year, more than any other. It simply will be our year to get Kale that much closer to recovery. That is our goal, and, although our journey started oh so long ago, we have not lost sight of that goal. I promised Kale a very long time ago, that I would try everything. I will be able to look at my son when he is 21 years old and say baby, mama tried it all. I will never give up on his journey. I will hold true to my promise to him. Make that promise with me: Look at your child, hold them close, and tell them . . . you will never give up.
This year, we will together:
Embrace. Move forward. Fight. Never give up. Succeed.
Sadie West is mom to Jaden and Kale, wife to Mikey and advocate for many. Guardian was chosen as my TEAM TMR nickname because of the number of kids I fight for and advocate for each and every day. My heart is full with the love I am given from these kids and vice versa. I am honored to be among such amazing, powerful and dedicated warrior moms.