By Kerry Blankenship
I knew before the diagnosis came in. Someone gently suggested having Emma evaluated for autism, and I started researching. I knew when I read the list of common characteristics that I was reading about my 3-year-old daughter.
When the diagnosis confirmed what I knew, I thought, in those first days, that everything had changed. That “autistic” meant strictly defined limitations and endless struggles, that one word could tell me what her future would (or wouldn’t) be. I was scared of what I imagined to be a long, lonely road, and I wondered whether I’d be “mom enough” to shepherd her down it.
I know better now.
Emma is as she always was. She loves penguins and quesadillas, she seeks thrills and she brings sunshine to everyone that knows her. And she is autistic.
It’s not a word I’m afraid of anymore. She processes the world in a way that I can’t—and her perspective is beautiful. Sure, there are challenges, but there are also amazing milestones and a whole lot of joy.
Emma has taught me to rejoice in the little things, like the voice from the backseat piping up with a request for “donut!” every time we drive past Target. That she can tell me what she wants is always cause for celebration.
The diagnosis gave us resources and a community. It didn’t change my daughter or her potential.
Emma is autistic. And Emma is awesome.
Kerry Blankenship is a mom of one beautiful girl. Her daughter, Emma, is a learner at Little Star Center.