Growing up, my mom always used to talk about destiny. My mom is a spiritual person and believes that everyone is put on this earth to learn and to contribute in some way. Like the average selfish child and teenager, I generally ignored my mom when she talked about destiny.
My son was diagnosed with autism at approximately 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 20, 2009. I was standing in the reference book aisle of the Barnes & Noble on
seven months pregnant with my daughter, when my son’s psychologist called to
tell me that, after observing him at preschool, she could now confirm that, in
her opinion, Jack had autism.
I would like to say that I was strong, that I immediately accepted the diagnosis and launched into an action plan. But I didn’t. I was in shock. It was not until I was about five miles from home that it hit me. Jack had autism. Jack had autism. I was so overcome with grief that I pulled over on the side of the freeway and sobbed until I got sick. As the weeks and months passed, I didn’t handle it any better. I continued to cry - often. I withdrew from my friends and family. I was mean to those closest to me. And I was angry. I was so unbelievably angry. And I was jealous. I was jealous and angry when I talked to friends and family with typically functioning children.
I’m not sure when it first happened but, little by little, I started to realize that EVERYTHING in my life seemed to support Jack and his diagnosis. Despite my best efforts to move back to my hometown of
Sacramento, I had
ended up in Los Angeles,
a hotbed for behavior therapy and occupational therapy research for individuals
with autism. I was an attorney – a
profession I never envisioned myself pursuing but which provided me with the
skills and connections to advocate for Jack’s services and education. My sister-in-law was an occupational
therapist for children with autism. My
college roommate, with whom I had shared a room for six years, studied behavior
therapy at the Lovaas Institute and was a behavior therapist (and spent hours
telling Jordan and I what to do before we officially started ABA behavior therapy at home). I was married to someone that, without any
hesitation, quit his job to stay home with Jack. And I was surrounded
with friends and family, many who also had children with special needs, who
provided support and empathy.
Jack is my destiny. It is my destiny to be his mother. I know that he is going to surpass Jordan and me in life and that he is going to make a profound impact in this world. It is my destiny to help him get there.
It is also my destiny to learn from Jack. To learn that life does not always go according to plan. It is okay to let go of control. It is okay to disagree with professionals. It is okay for people not to like you. It is okay to make a scene in a grocery store. It is okay to be sad, to be angry, and even to be jealous.
Now, when I hear that Jack had a difficult day at school, that he will likely need to repeat first grade, that he is not reading at the level he should, that he needs to add social skills therapy, I just smile because I know that he and I are in this together. That this is just our destiny and I can’t wait to find out where we head next. Namaste, Jack Capell. Namaste.