Editor’s Note: April is Autism Awareness Month, a time to learn and exchange knowledge to support those with autism, their parents and teachers. Vicki Sarber, crowned Mrs. America, writes about her life and parenting. This is the first segment on the topic of being a parent of a child with autism on Sarber’s blog.
By Vicki Sarber
Here it is, the day I have thought about for awhile, but have been dragging my feet (and heart) around the subject. That would be Autism, my life with it and the idea of writing about it.
April 3 is the official Autism Awareness Day with the month of April being dedicated to the cause.
First, a quick and general definition of autism. It is a developmental disability that typically appears during the first two years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain.
This impacts the development of social and communication skills.
OK, most people have heard of it, many live with it or with someone who does. Our son Jackson has Asperger Syndrome. Aspergers falls in the “autism spectrum.” Our kids call it a “rainbow spectrum,” which I think is a better term for it, especially for those visual learners out there.
So why in the world wouldn’t I be the first to speak to this as Mrs. America or simply a concerned mom? Why? Well, because before I even knew about “autism or aspergers” it was weaving its web like a spider wraps its prey around my son and our family.
Almost a decade has gone by that we have been waging a very emotional and personal battle within the walls of our home. I was afraid to say too much for fear of being labeled as someone who exploits my children or worrying that someone would think my husband and I are bad parents or even worse, that our son “was bad.” Stupid thoughts, but that’s what went through my mind.
I also thought to myself, what can I possibly offer? I feel like I am failing myself, my family and my son. What could I say that would be beneficial to anyone else?
Our son was officially diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome right about the same time I was crowned Mrs. America in August 2012.
After returning from that amazing experience, things at home with Jackson turned dark, as our son was suicidal. He’s only 10, and tears run down my cheeks just thinking about it. How could this boy — so complex and brilliant and so very much love — feel so trapped by the frustration and darkness in his mind that he would want to leave us?
I reached out in desperation to professionals, some of whom were already in place. I needed help, guidance and yes, even prayer for both my son and our family.
It is during this time that I started discovering the value of just knowing that I wasn’t alone, hearing the stories from others who were in different phases of their knowledge and experience in the world of autism.
Words don’t express the importance of how these stories from others has given me strength and hope. It is because of this and how is has touched my heart that I offer our most intimate and personal journey of learning, supporting and loving our way through autism.
It is my hope that someone out there will find the same strength that I did by reading our story. I will break it up in a series of posts, as there is just too much to write all at once.
Vicki Sarber is a Homer resident, mother of three and will serve her term as Mrs. American until August.
Comments are closed