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I was amazed… and in shock… and amazed and definitely in shock when I saw the positive pregnancy test.

I cried when we saw his little heartbeat for the first time.

I cried when we went to our first ultrasound. There were many ultrasounds-many! The most memorable was when I leaned over Mommy’s belly, talked to him and he turned his head towards my voice, moved my way and gave us a little wave. I was a sniffly mess.

I cried when things got scary.
Mommy’s blood pressure was getting higher and having experienced nearly dying due to Toxemia when I was pregnant with Ms. Big, I knew there were risks of losing them both and I was freaked out.

I cried at the kindness of our doctor. She comforted me when I was scared and really is the most knowledgeable, compassionate and funny doctor I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

I cried my eyes out when I saw that little boy for the first time. Mommy’s chin and lips. The family hairline. It was all so powerfully overwhelming and awesome.

I didn’t used to be a ball of mush but somehow this little boy that I never knew I was missing, has softened me.

Four years after his birth, I watch him sleep.
His lips stay slightly open and he has the same little snore.
So much innocence.
He’s just so beautiful.

The first three years we watched with some worry…
-little cars lined up in a perfect row
-eyes focused on anything with wheels, watching them spin and spin
-horrible sleeping patterns
-tracking lines on all objects
-limited interaction with peers
-would either shy away from noise or get noisier because of it

The list goes on and on. As time went by some concerns would dissipate and others would crop up in their place. The doctor said he was fine and even though we had that nagging feeling, we really wanted to believe it, so we carried on as usual. We kept our heads in the sand until nearly midway through this last year, that’s when the blinders came off.

Preschool wasn’t going well; he played alone and couldn’t keep his hands out of faces. His agitation level would reach maximum in seconds, behavior was more erratic than ever and he just didn’t seem available. When we took him to the doctor, all that was seen was a sweet, happy, funny, chatty little boy and red flags would be missed due to his overall cuteness but we knew; we knew something just wasn’t right and we had to take some action.

Around this time Miss Munchkin was having horrible tummy problems. We were constantly weaning her off one food or another trying to figure out the triggers. After trial and error we determined she had a milk allergy. Simultaneously, Mommy stumbled across information that linked dairy and gluten to ADHD and Autism symptoms. We didn’t know what was up with our son but we knew there were too many signs to ignore so we made a decision to modify his diet.

Along with diet, we also had to do some parenting modification. Our entire attitude about how we parented him had to change. While reading about Sensory Processing Disorder we learned that his surroundings were a constant disturbance. He couldn’t control how he heard or felt things, anymore than he could control the reaction he had to them. It was clear that we needed to recognize the stimulus that was causing him to act out, validate his feelings and help soothe his anxiety. This approach brought us all relief and the results were noticeable and immediate. The closer attention that we paid to his environment, the more we learned about him. It was an eye-opening experience all the way around.

We had great success with dietary changes. First to go was dairy and within 3 days there was a different child in front of us! He was calmer, more reasonable and more social. We stood back and watched him have a conversation with a grocery clerk like it was normal routine when in fact it had never happened before.

A couple months later we eliminated gluten. The change was slower but one day it was like a light switch turned on. He held eye contact. It wasn’t like he hadn’t looked in our eyes before but when the change happened we cried because we didn’t know how much of him we had been missing. Our sweet, happy, loving boy hadn’t been fully with us and now, there he was, looking at us. Really seeing us.

The most recent change was eliminating soy. After taking away dairy and gluten, much of his diet contained soy and for lack of better reasoning, it’s like his system started getting overloaded. The progress we had seen was beginning to wane and he was regressing into earlier behaviors. Acting out was taking a larger role and autistic symptoms were once again more prominent. Days after removing soy, he was reachable and pleasant. His sweet little voice would say things that melted us. He was calm enough to think them and available enough to say them.

This week he will start occupational therapy, a big step in helping him achieve daily goals. After a lengthy wait, we finally had an evaluation and as we had speculated, he is delayed in fine and gross motor skills. We’re excited to see him get involved in things that will help catch him up with his age group.

This last year has been full of changes for all of us. He has made so many improvements that “bad” days are not the norm anymore. When they happen it reaffirms all the changes we have implemented and makes us more vigilant than ever about always being “on” and aware. It can be exhausting but when he fights like hell during high stimulus moments to maintain control and is absolutely spent afterwards, we know that we have the strength to be there fighting right along side him, helping him stay strong.

Our little boy was born on the 4th of July.
We have celebrated 4 fourths.
There was no indication of how much of a firecracker he would be but his little soul puts off the most beautiful display of love.
The ultimate grand finale.