October 11, 2001
To my dearest family, relatives, and friends,
It has been a very long time since I wrote a very deep letter. Maybe because most years of my life, I have been so content that eventhough I was sad and had problems, I have learned to cope and shut up.
Early this year, we went to my son, Dale's, pediatrician for treatment of his cough and colds. We went to a new one, because his former pediatrician went abroad. This new doctor, told us, in all honesty, that we have to take Dale to a developmental psych. She suspects something is wrong with him.
I thought, WHO THE HECK IS THIS DOCTOR? WHY IN THE WORLD WILL THERE BE SOMETHING WRONG WITH MY SON? But of course, I just thought that. Being brought up by my parents as a respectful person, I just listened to her.
When I got to the office, I don't know why. Without anything going on, I just turned on the PC, opened the browser, and searched for a topic. AUTISM. I typed in the search field. I picked a site, and went on reading. I read almost every topic on that website, and feeling like a zombie, reached for the office's wireless and called my husband. Upon hearing his voice, I cracked up. I told him, my son has autism.
How did you know? Calm down. Where did you read it from? No, it can't possibly. Stop crying. We're not sure of that. Those were his words. I just passed him the information from what I have read, the symptoms, possible causes and whatnot. Saying it in barely recognizable phrases because I could not control myself. I have never cried as hysterically as this before. I thought everything I have achieved in life, even if it was only bearing three wonderful children have been trashed.
I kept on asking myself, WHY MY SON? HAVE I DONE SOMETHING GRAVELY WRONG? HAVE I NOT PRAYED EVERYDAY OF MY LIFE? Everyday since then, I have silently hoped that I was wrong. I have told my cousin, and she told her mom, who in turn gave me the contact number of this SPED teacher. I consulted her and she recommended me to Dra. Alexis Reyes of Makati Medical Center.
A lot of people since then went on telling us that they didn't think that Dale has autism. They think that maybe he's just not disciplined. They kept assuring me that there were normal kids who are just delayed in development like speech. But it wasn't just his not talking. It's his eye contact, it's his strange behavior. His inability to point and recognize danger. His inability to listen and look at me when I call his name. It was everything.
Whatever consolations they point out, I did not feel any better, because deep inside me, I have accepted the fact that he really has autism. The signs were all there. I don't know if that would make me a bad mother, but it helped me now.
I then set up an appointment with Dra. Reyes which was June, but was then rescheduled to March of next year. Then just two days ago, her secretary called and said the doctor will see us yesterday.
It was exactly 2:00 P.M. when the doctor went out of the office and called us. She asked for Dale's history, and assessed him for 45 minutes, played with him and made him sit still. We were having difficulties then because Dale saw that the doctor has a packet of Pringles, and he kept on getting it. He started to cry then and would not stop crying. But when the doctor asked him to do something like
play with a puzzle, he completes the puzzle while crying. He stacked thirteen blocks on top of another, making sure the blocks were all aligned before he placed another one. (Later on the doctor told us that it was a good sign, most kids she assessed could only stack 4 blocks)
After the assessment the doctor asked me to sit down with my husband and she explained things to us. I found myself asking her: "So, what are you saying? Is it positive that my son has autism?" And her reply was the most hurtful 3-word sentence I have ever heard: "Yes, he is."
I did not cry. I did not shed a single tear. I just listened to what she was saying.
She gave us information on how to deal with this and referred us to the CENTER FOR AUTISM AND RELATED DISORDERS. She just gave us a slip of paper as a referral when we go to CARD, stating that my son has Autism Spectrum Disorder.
When it was over, my husband who rarely carries him, scooped him up and hugged him and carried him until we got to the lobby. He kissed him and hugged him all that time. He got the car from the parking lot while we waited for him in the lobby. It was raining a bit, but my husband was taking quite a long time getting the car, I noticed. When he finally came by, when we got in the car, my husband was crying. He cried while he was driving. I did not.
When I told my mother that night, I saw her tears building up in her eyes. Mine did not.
You could ask me why I did not cry, and my answer will always be this:
I really believe that everything that happens to our lives has this certain purpose or reason. The problem is, what is it? And how do we take it to our advantage?
I only know then and now that I LOVE MY SON. I love him so deeply, that I would give him everything, and sacrifice everything just to give him a normal life even if it was just at a certain point.
And I believe that if my husband cries, my mom cries, the whole family, and everyone else cries, then what would these tears do for my son? Will he get better? Will these tears be some sort of a miracle for my son? I did not think so. What I thought was, I have to be strong for my son. I have to keep strong faith that HE WILL get better. Because I'm done with crying. And it did not do me or my son any good.
So, this morning, I placed Dale on his younger brother's crib. He hates that. He kept on asking me in hand gestures to bring him down. I did not. Not until he kisses me first, I told him. Until his dad came down and wanted to get him out because he pities him, I told him NO.
NOT UNTIL DALE KISSES ME FIRST, I told them.
Dale would have to exhaust himself from crying but I WILL NOT bring him down. Sadist? No. It was because I love him. He has to try to listen to me and understand. After a painful (for me and his Dad) 2 minutes, he finally kissed me. FIVE TIMES.
Now, then I could have cried. Because, for the first time in months, I am now SURE that my son, AROLF DELANO, will be okay.
I love all of you,