Saving my Sons

In February 2004, when David was about 20 months old, we visited a developmental specialist. We had to wait two agonising, soul-stealing months before we secured an appointment with her. When I close my eyes and cast my memory back to that fateful day, I can still see her sitting behind her large desk as she delivered the diagnosis that destroyed the more or less normal path we thought we were taking.
The outcome of this visit turned into a surreal nightmare from which there was no escape. What she gave us was not merely a diagnosis, it was more like a death sentence. In a perfectly calm, matter-of-fact voice, she uttered this dreadful news and advice: ‘He will never speak, go to school, be toilet-trained, have friends, get married, or hold down a job. Take out an insurance policy and see a psychologist. 
‘I hear you’re pregnant,’ she added casually. ‘I don’t know what to tell you. I guess you can go for genetic testing. No guarantees, unfortunately.’
Her parting words to us?
‘Goodbye and good luck.’
She turned and left for another appointment. We finally had our diagnosis, delivered in cold and brutal language. Before she spoke those fateful words, we had still had hope that everything would turn out right. Before the gavel strikes and the words leave the judge’s lips, the sentence is neither legal nor official. But now the developmental specialist’s gavel had struck, the words had left her mouth, and the sentence had been pronounced.
‘Autism!’
All our hope dissipated into dust.

Read more by buying Saving my Sons: A Journey with Autism is available from bookstores nationwide and online retailers.

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