‘The doctor entered the room and revealed what I already knew. My beautiful boy had level three autism, the most severe.’: Special needs mom shares diagnosis journey, urges ‘don’t ever set limits on your child’

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“My wife and I sat in the little white room, which was far too hot, while we waited for the doctor to enter and reveal the results of the never-ending testing. It had been three months of countless questions and submitting notes from therapists. My beautiful boy spun in circles and squealed while we waited.

Occasionally, a scream would erupt to remind his mom and me time was ticking, before he was all done and exploded. I nervously bounced my leg and twirled my fingers while the clock ever so slowly moved forward. Time began to stop. Although I knew what the results of the testing would reveal, I was not ready to hear the diagnosis said out loud by a doctor about my beautiful boy.

newborn baby wearing a denim overall with hearts and an orange pacifier laying on a bed with white sheets
Courtesy of Jessica Garmon-Ingle
baby sitting in a chair wearing a red shirt and cargo pants with red ribbons hanging in the background
Courtesy of Jessica Garmon-Ingle

The doctor entered the room with a stack of more papers. With his kind eyes, he revealed what I already knew. My beautiful boy had autism. He was diagnosed as level three, the most severe. The doctor continued to speak but I could no longer hear him. I was too busy watching my beautiful boy and silently pleading with him to look at me.

If he would just look at me, then just maybe everyone was wrong. He would be able to one day speak. He would be able to one day work at a job. He would one day be able to live independently. Zeke didn’t look at me. Instead, he simply continued to spin and squeal. My heart was breaking as my beautiful boy lined toys up along the edge of the chair. My mind raced and time stopped at the same time.

baby boy smiling wearing a white shirt that says 'Wild One' and a sing in the back that says 'you are our greatest adventure'
Lole Photography
toddler with autism standing on wood floors wearing a black and white tripped shirt
Courtesy of Jessica Garmon-Ingle

I never wanted him to struggle to simply live in the world around him. I wanted him to thrive. I wanted him to have a friend. I wanted him to go to school and learn. I wanted him to ride the bus to and from school. I wanted him to play baseball if he wanted. As all these thoughts ran through my head, the doctor continued to speak. I heard nothing else after the diagnosis was given.

When I gathered my thoughts and reminded myself to pay attention, the appointment was over. I was handed a stack of papers and the three of us walked to the car. I didn’t say a word the entire ride home. Zeke babbled in the backseat as we passed by all his favorite places. He grinned at me each time I looked back to check on him.

autistic baby sitting on a baby chair at a restaurant looking back and smiling
Courtesy of Jessica Garmon-Ingle

The next day, we immediately sprang into action and created a plan of therapies for my beautiful boy. He flourished with the structure and enjoyed therapy time. At one point, he was participating in eleven therapies a week. It was exhausting and expensive, but so worth it to see our beautiful boy thriving. He began to look at us once again.

I will never forget the day he looked me in the eyes for the first time after so long. He and I were cuddling on the couch while his favorite movie played in the background. I began to remind him how wonderful and amazing he is, as I do every single day. He simply locked his eyes with mine and gave me a small grin. My eyes welled with tears and he gently rubbed my cheek. After this day, my beautiful boy began to look at me more and more frequently.

mom looking at autistic son, who is wearing a shit with his name 'ZEKE'
Courtesy of Jessica Garmon-Ingle
lesbian couple hugging their autistic son wearing a Santa hat and gray beanies
Courtesy of Jessica Garmon-Ingle

While he continued to frequently twirl, he began to take us by the hand to twirl with him. We would spin together as a family of three until we were nauseous. The interaction I had longed for was finally happening. I was on cloud nine as we turned on music and twirled in the living room together after dinner in the evenings.

After a while, we began to settle into the world of autism. Extra locks on windows and doors, speech devices, selective eating, and stimming has become our everyday life. Zeke has several friends. While he is in a specialized classroom, he goes to school and learns every single day. He is even beginning to match his colors once again. He plays baseball with our local miracle league team. He runs the entire game and keeps the outfield on fire out there.

autistic boy wearing a hat and a green speedo shirt outside of a coffee place holding a teddy bear
Courtesy of Jessica Garmon-Ingle
LGBT mom hugging her autistic son who is wearing an astronaut costume inside of a convenience store
Courtesy of Jessica Garmon-Ingle

Every single morning, he skips to the bus as it stops to pick him up and hops off into my arms every single afternoon. While we make accommodations, my beautiful boy can do every single thing I had dreamt of him doing. We are so incredibly proud of him and how hard he works every single day. We are excited about the future and to continue to watch him succeed.

To the moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and caregivers of your newly diagnosed little one, don’t ever set limits on them. There isn’t anyone who knows the future and what your child might accomplish.”

autistic boy wearing a backpack on the way to school
Courtesy of Jessica Garmon-Ingle
lesbian couple with their autistic son sitting on the window of a barn
Courtesy of Jessica Garmon-Ingle
autistic boy wearing an astronaut costume sitting on his grandpa's lap with grandma in the back
Courtesy of Jessica Garmon-Ingle

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Garmon-Ingle. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story  here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Jessica here:

‘This afternoon, we sold our home. This house has seen every high and low in our lives.’: Special needs mom recalls nostalgic memories of ‘safe haven’ in wake of move

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