I have a 4 year old daughter that has been diagnosed with Austism. Ziva was 4 on August 30th and she has been diagnosed since she turned 2. I never knew a thing about being on the spectrum and it wasn't until I was told at her 18 month checkup that she may very well be Autistic. To hear a label put on your child has to be one of the worst feelings to ever exist. For months I mourned all that I believed lost. I thought of all the activities she would miss out on and the unknown was scary beyond belief.
Ziva was non-verbal so it made it even more complicated to reach her and to connect. The day I realized that I may never hear my daughter tell me that she loved me or call me "mom" I cried non-stop while laying on my bathroom floor. I didn't know what to do to help her and the impotence that was weighing on me knocked me out cold. My husband would see me cry and get angry at me for being so weak and I in turn was so angry at him for having no compassion. This took a toll on our marriage and eventually it ended in divorce. We became a statistic among families with special needs children.
I truly believe however that things happens as they are meant to be. My ex-husband and I are now better friends that support and love our daughter and work endlessly to make sure she knows that she is the light of our life. My son has learned to be gentle and practice patience with his little sister… something that most 11 year old boys cannot do. I learned to accept what is and to just go with it.
Every accomplishment Ziva reaches, every milestone is so precious to me. There is no one like my Ziva. Her smile lights up the room and her attitude is simply priceless. She has started to speak and sing and although following directions are sometimes challenging for her, she always looks intently in my eyes to find security and direction. Some days are harder than others and I'm sure it must be hard for her to adjust to the two households and the many different changes that are happening around our lives constantly… but through all of that she still shines.
We deal with meltdowns and tantrums, at times we cannot tell them apart because at the end of the day she is still a little 4 year old child. We no longer mourn the loss of the expectation of the life we wanted for her but rather rejoice in Ziva just being Ziva.
Autism was unexpected but we keep trying to understand her. Not change her. We are adapting to her and her needs so that she has the confidence to blossom into the smart bright young lady she will be in due time.
Written by: Cindy Nunez