Tomorrow I will drive my oldest to participate in a study on Autism. We will leave early in the morning, drive over an hour away, and navigate through traffic to find a parking spot. Then I get to watch my son endure 1 1/2 -2 hours of testing while I answer questions as well. Why? We go in the hopes that our participation will help—in some small way—to provide a better understanding of Autism. C. is just one participant. Early next month I make the same trek with his younger brother for the same routine. There are no benefits for us for doing this. On the contrary, this isn’t easy to commit to right now. Yet, this is our way to thank the countless families who preceded us and to add our piece to the gigantic jigsaw puzzle that is Autism.
Honestly when this opportunity came up, I hesitated for a moment. I knew what it would entail and what an ordeal it would be, especially with the little guy. However, I thought of some Mom out there, a few years in the future, that might benefit from the research that is being done. I thought of how I benefited from the parents who endured countless questions and studies when the understanding of Autism was in its earliest stages. Not that we know so much about the big “A” right now…but it is more than we did. And maybe, God willing, it will be more in the future. Maybe this study might help with one more aspect, better awareness, lead to one more child being diagnosed earlier so that earlier interventions can begin. Maybe, just maybe…it might open the door to even more. I can only pray.
There are so many of us parents out there who deal with our children’s issues day in and day out. Parents who are on the front lines of a battle we did not enlist in or choose to engage in but do so nonetheless. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, who fought for answers, fought for rights and education, fought for information and fought to make it better for the next group of parents who came after them. There are some of us who are the next generation of soldiers and those of us who are pioneers blazing trails with issues that may not even have a name yet. All of us make a contribution through our children. All of us keeping moving our respective causes forward in our own ways. It won’t be easy sitting there and being brutally honest about my son’s life and how he interacts in this world. It will be hard and heart wrenching at times and yet liberating to share it with someone else in other ways. It is what it is I keep telling myself.
Tomorrow, I hope to do my small part by taking my firstborn to help some other parent I’ll never meet. I may not be tall but I’m willing to allow someone else to stand on my shoulders so they can stand taller tomorrow. We never know when a “yes” might be the piece of the puzzle that brings the picture into focus.