Tuesday, March 19, 2013


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 Hollywood Boulevard, 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.


  1. Beautiful, Julie. Looks like the family is blessed with two moving writers. Much love to you.

    Anne B.

  2. Glad you are able to ride out the rough times because of the multitude of amazing moments with your son!! PEACE

  3. Well stated. Let that which is good in all of us ... grow.

  4. so beautifully written. Just as beautiful as the person I've come to know and love. I'm so blessed to have you in my life. With you came Jordan and then Jack and then Jade. You all teach me to be a better person.

  5. Beautiful, Julie! You are such an honest, loving writer.

  6. A sign of great writing: when it has you in tears at your desk.This was a beautifully profound and touching Julie. Jack is one lucky little boy and will navigate through this world beautifully with parents like you and Jordan guiding the way.

  7. I have often said-- and its a theme in MY blog too-- that my whole life prepared me to be Jack's mom. (MY Jack)
    You come to realize its the journey....and its a glorious one. Not always an easy one-- but a glorious one.

    Much love and support to you, strong lady

  8. A few years before I had my daughter, I met a wonderful friend through a celebrity's fan message board. She would sometimes talk about her two sons who had Autism. When my daughter was diagnosed at age 3, my friend was the first person I called. Of course, I had spoken to her about my daughter when I first started noticing signs, too. She has always been right by my side, helping me navigate services/therapies, etc. I fully believe that God placed her in my life as He knew I was going to need help. I have met the most wonderful people on this journey. Each and every one of them seem to have been placed in my path to help me figure this all out and in return, I reach out to help others new to Autism. Paying it forward....paying it back. The Autism community is a great one.

  9. Beautiful! As I read our words I couldn't help but think that it sounds a lot like our story. We found out in October of 2009 that our son Elijah has autism. Where we are today is not where we thought we would be, but that is okay, we followed our destiny. I truly believe that God does put us all here for a purpose and I know our Elijah is going to be okay. It is amazing how a lot of our stories are similar, those of us with kids who have autism, we are like a family, maybe never meeting each other, but we share the same desire, which is to love our children unconditionally, to see them grow and achieve and aspire and love. It is the way it was meant to be. God bless you and your family. Again beautiful post!

  10. beautifully written! I too went through my stages of grief after Liam's diagnosis. Like you though, I realized he was my destiny <3