‘The morning AFTER walking the stage and receiving my diploma in active labor, I delivered a handsome baby boy.’: Teen mom shares son’s autism diagnosis

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“Senior year is supposed to be all about celebrating the end of high school, right? The most pivotal point of being ‘young, wild, and free?’ Well, for me it was a little different. Imagine your whole life changing just as you’re about to start what is supposed to be the most carefree, best experience of your life. Only a month into my senior year, I found out I was pregnant. My heart sank. I instantly started thinking about the horrible stigma of teen mothers. I mourned the loss of my dream senior year. I cried. I laughed. I persevered. I did the unthinkable.

The morning AFTER walking across the stage and receiving my diploma while in active labor, I arrived at the hospital 7 cm dilated. Shortly thereafter, I delivered a handsome baby boy naturally. That was the day, I met my sweet boy Zayden. The one who had slept in my tummy and tugged at my heart for 9 months. He was perfect. I was in awe. I never saw one flaw. Just a day after being out of high school, I had become responsible for a whole new life. I vowed to continue my education and create a great life for my son. I realized I was in complete control of our future. Until I wasn’t.

As a 17-month-old, Zayden was a popular loner. All his cousins insisted on coming to play with him daily. It was hard for me to get him to enjoy the company of others. He would also flap his hands repetitively and make repetitive noises. I became concerned but I put it on the back burner thinking maybe he’ll ‘grow out of it.’

Stan Cooper Photography

Soon after that came the concern of a speech delay. Could you imagine being called ‘mama’ one day and the next day, it just stops? You hate yourself for not savoring those moments. As a mother, any little delay along with regression in your child can make you feel low. I went into panic mode, but I knew I couldn’t shut down. A baby boy was depending on me to speak up for him and be his voice until he finds his own again.

With that said, all those early signals gave me that needed push to speak to his pediatrician, who then referred me to a psychologist to get him evaluated. That is when I heard the words I didn’t want to hear. My son has autism. I was angry at myself for not knowing. I was questioning my parenting. ‘Was it something that I did?’ I knew if I kept being selfish thinking that way, I would miss the opportunity for early intervention for my son. He deserved that! I still had my highs, and I had my lows. I’m not perfect by far. I get lost in my emotions and forget the importance of being present mentally for myself and Zayden during this time.

It has almost been a year now since his diagnosis and let me tell you. I never imagined such a busy but well worth it life. I decided to choose better over bitter, triumph over tragedy, and let my test become my testimony! I will make sure my son overcomes adversity. I travel 30 minutes twice a week for my son’s therapy sessions. I am willing to sacrifice any piece of what I thought would be my life to make sure his is great.

Stan Cooper Photography

I’m young and was given the opportunity to become very mature at the age of 20. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything in the world. Now I have a platform, I am determined to help other mothers who may be in similar situations feel the same. This year, I began expressing a lot of my feelings about this journey just as I am now. In writing.

What started as just an outpour of emotions into my phone became a story I am proud to say I created. I love you beyond words tells the story of a little boy who may not communicate the same way as other children, but is just as special, just as au-some, and just as loved. A diagnosis of autism may spark fear, uncertainty, and other emotions for parents. ‘Why my child? How will we handle this? Will my child ever be like his classmates?’ I had the opportunity to feel the same way but turned my family’s mindset to one of gratitude and thankfulness amid my son’s diagnosis. I am beyond grateful I was chosen to be the sacrificial lamb for this baby boy.

I made the book in hopes the pages will not only remind my son of my unconditional love but provide encouragement to other parents with maybe similar circumstances. The book was put out on May 19 and has diver been flourishing and so has Zayden! I’m so grateful for all the love and support he has been receiving. I will keep raising awareness and be a voice for the voiceless!”

Stan Cooper Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Shamel Sequoya. You can follow their journey on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more powerful perspectives from moms of special needs kids:

‘Of course he doesn’t, he’s absolutely fine!’ Everyone laughed it off. My little boy wasn’t going to talk, EVER.’: Mom to son with autism urges ‘acceptance starts in the home’

‘Mama, no! Please no hair wash! Too scary!’ Was I being punished? I dread it just as much as he does.’: Autism mom shares insight into meltdowns, ‘We live a spectrum life’

‘I loved him when he had words, and when he lost them. Through the sleepless nights, endless screaming, and walking in circles. I loved him even when he couldn’t say, ‘I love you.’: Mom to son with autism urges ‘all you need is love’

‘It’s so easy to get caught up in what life could have been. Autism wasn’t a death sentence back then and it isn’t now.’: Autism mom pens open letter to kids, ‘I promise to always fight for you’

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