Every weekend that follows Thanksgiving, has been our family’s tradition to put up our Christmas tree and decorate the house. Last year, I decided I was tired of our 20-year-old plastic, gold and red ornaments and went on a wild shopping spree. I returned with blue and silver ornaments. Pretty “wild”, huh?
As I was admiring our work, my husband Ted commented that he “missed” the red and gold theme from previous years. While we were discussing gold vs. silver, Alex, our 20 year old son, reminded us that we had a second tree downstairs from when my dad moved. He no longer had room for it and I can’t say “no” to anything free.
Alex dragged the tree upstairs and the work began. Every ornament I touched had a story, and immediately I was reminded why we had plastic ornaments. You see, Alex was diagnosed with Autism at age 2. That second Christmas he was mobile and loved the “shiny” items on the tree. All the ornaments were glass from a time before I was even married. Unfortunately, Alex thought the ornaments would bounce, as any ball would, and slowly I witnessed shattered glass everywhere. As soon as I would clean up the shards of glass from one ornament, he would quickly throw another one. I started to cry. Not for the ornaments. Not for the mess. It was at that moment I realized our lives would never be the same. Alex had Autism.
Today, I smiled with each plastic ornament I held. Each one had a memory and story. There was no sadness or tears. You see, through nutritional changes and ABA therapy, Alex has grown into a fine young man. He has lost his diagnosis of Autism and is attending college. I know he is not the norm for Autism, but I hope as I share his story it will give hope to others that there are options out there. Never lose faith.