In March 2018, I found out I was pregnant with my first, and only, child – a precious baby boy! My husband and I were so excited because we struggled with infertility for six years. Throughout my pregnancy, everything went great, and we welcomed our sweet Gunner in October 2018. He quickly become the joy in our lives, and in everyone else’s! Everyone who meets Gunner instantly loves him. As he began to grow, we noticed he wasn’t meeting some small behavioral milestones at two-years-old and also wasn’t talking. We knew that something wasn’t quite right. So, we started Gunner in speech and occupational therapy right away. These sessions did help, but he still only used a handful of words and mostly communicated by hand to let us know what he needed or wanted. Gunner was officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in October 2022, just one week shy of his fourth birthday.
Because Gunner communicates by hand, I have a favorite saying, “Love needs no words!” Gunner doesn’t need to tell us how much he loves us; he always shows us – and that’s an important point. Autistic people and children look just like you and me. If you open your heart to accepting those with autism, you will not be disappointed – I promise. You, too, will realize very quickly that love needs no words.
Being an autism mom is a new title for me, and I take that title very seriously. As an autism mom, I will always advocate for my son, for equal treatment and equal opportunities, and fight for his inclusion the rest of my life.
With Gunner’s official diagnosis still new – even though I already had a feeling he was autistic in my heart – it was still a hard adjustment. As a parent, you picture what your child’s future will be like, and when you learn that future may now not be what you had hoped for, it is a form of grief you go through. For me, it has been hard these past few months, but I can say I’m in a much better place now. I’ve accepted that my life is now dedicated to being my son’s safe space, advocate, cheerleader, taxi driver, cook, and caregiver – at a larger commitment than most parents. At four-years-old, I don’t know if Gunner will ever drive a car, move out, or get married – hit milestones that many children do. If he does or doesn’t, I will still be the proudest mom in the world and will be right by his side through it all.
I love that I work for a company that brings awareness to and celebrates those with autism as a way to encourage us all to open our hearts and share our stories. I’m honored to share my Gunner’s story.
Written with Love,
An Autism Mom