What is Success?

success

When my son was 3, I was told that he would eventually be placed into some type of home for the mentally disabled. The only job that he would have would be a repetitious one, such as working on an assembly line. There was no hope given by the ‘professionals’ that he would ever amount to anything.

Getting the diagnosis that he was Autistic was one thing, but following that up with “be prepared to place him in a home when he gets older”, absolutely crushed me. I left that day completely distraught, saddened that my son would never accomplish anything. This beautiful little boy whom I loved so dearly, would never live on his own. He would never get married, nor would he have children. That’s what they said, so that’s what I believed. After all, they were ‘professionals’.

My son started pre-school at the age of 3 and a therapist visited our home on a regular basis. Together, we all worked with him to learn his colors, numbers and letters. Mainly we worked on his social skills and his behavior. He had very poor social skills. From the moment he could crawl, he refused to be held by anyone. So for him to sit in a room and pay attention to someone was nearly impossible.

He didn’t speak, nor could he effectively communicate with his actions. His inability to communicate caused him to throw terrible tantrums constantly. He would scream, tear things apart and kick you if you tried to calm him. In all honesty, he was miserable to be around most of the time. That’s a horrible thing to say, but it’s true. To make matters worse, I was practically raising him on my own.

His father would keep him on the weekends, but he was in denial that there was anything wrong with him. I don’t blame him for being that way. He just didn’t want to believe it. Even so, he was a good dad. He still is. But because of his denial, the job was placed solely on me. It was tough, to say the least.

Although I worked with him continually on improving (or gaining) skills, in the back of my mind sat the words of the ‘professionals”, that he would never accomplish anything. Because of that, there were many times where I just wanted to give up and throw in the towel.

From his painting the walls with ‘brown crayons’, ripping things apart, tearing up the carpet and the wall paper, along with his constant tantrums – I was drained. Raising him, was physically and mentally exhausting. If he wasn’t going to accomplish anything, then what was the point of it all? I had dreams of running away to the mountains and never turning back.

Then there was the other part of me, the larger part, that refused to quit. The love for my son kept pushing me along. Day by day, step by step. There had to be a light at the end of the tunnel. I was determined that my son would overcome all those obstacles that towered before him. He deserved a good life and I wasn’t going to stop until he got there, no matter how hard the journey was.

For years we worked, we fought, we struggled, we got angry and I cried. He never cried. Even when punished, he never cried. He laughed. That made discipline worthless. So, we struggled some more. Then one day, he said “Mom”. He was 7. I had waited all those years to hear him call my name and when he did, it was such a beautiful sound. It was then that I knew that the hope was not lost.

He could speak simple words and 3 word phrases, but until the single word “Mom” proceeded from his mouth, none of his other words ever seemed to have real meaning. Not even to him. From that day forward, the wall began chipping away little by little to reveal the boy that was hidden within. Over the next few months, he would say words that I had know idea he knew. He would do things that I had never seen him do before.

Throughout all those years of teaching him, I never realized that he was learning anything. However, as he began emerging from his little world, he shared with me the things he had learned while being ‘stuck’ in there. I had know idea. I always felt like I was teaching a brick wall. In a sense I was, but what I didn’t know was that the lessons were quietly seeping through the cracks.

From there, he began reaching milestone after milestone. He’s 14 now. He can speak in full sentences, although they may not always be complete. He can read and write. He’s able to do simple math, including multiplication and division. He’s very creative, especially when it comes to digital graphics and art.

Not only is he smart, but he’s got the greatest sense of humor. He’s also very polite, giving, loving and sincere. He doesn’t put on a facade for anyone. What you see is what you get and with him, you get a lot. He’s an amazing young man.

Will he ever get married and have kids? I don’t know, but I know he wants to. So, I believe he will.

Maybe he won’t drive a nice fancy car. He may not drive at all. Maybe he won’t own a house. He may live in an independent group home one day. He may not be a rocket scientist. Or, maybe he will. He is a geek after all and he sure does love science.

Whoever said that he has to do any of these things in order to be successful? Not everyone’s meaning of success is the same. The dictionary states that success is “the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted”. By that definition he’s already obtained success and a great deal of it at that. This is only the beginning for him.

My son makes me proud every day. He is my hero.

“Don’t limit yourself to someone else’s opinion of your capabilities. Be you. Dream, plan, execute!” ~ Steve Maraboli

 

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31 Responses to What is Success?

  1. DailyMusings says:

    I LOVE your line ” Not everyone’s meaning of success is the same.” I so agree! And you are right, your son has already been successful. I volunteered for 5 years in different group homes for adults with developmental disabilities- each resident was leading a fulfilling life, and felt proud about their accomplishments in the workplace and at home.

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      I wish everyone would be able to see the same success that you saw in those people, while working there. Each milestone reached and each accomplishment is great success.

      Like

  2. LindaGHill says:

    Their futures may be a little harder to imagine, but the Autistic are continually surprising – their genius is so well hidden. Good for you for not giving up. 🙂

    Like

  3. What an incredible story. I admire your perseverance and determination. Thanks for sharing.
    I agree that the idea of success is frequently misshapen by our society. Great perspective.

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    • mewhoami says:

      It is misshapen. You are absolutely right. That is one of the reasons why people give up so easily. They’re trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations, instead of their own.

      Like

  4. suzjones says:

    It must have been such a struggle for you and probably still is. You know we often joke at work that the clients have a better social life and opportunities that we do 🙂 Your son will go far when he has someone who loves him so much looking out for him and pointing him in the right direction. Blessings to you. 🙂

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    • mewhoami says:

      It was. Compared to how he was, he’s a piece of cake now. Seriously, he’s very easy to take care of. He’s a come a long, long way. Thank you, Sue. I believe he will go a long way too.

      Like

  5. I love this post! First, you are one strong mama!! I want to be like you. Second, I know what it’s like to want to give up. You did an amazing job. The days are long bad you kept fighting. Great job mama!!

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      Thank you. I must admit though, I didn’t feel very strong. Many days it was more like being pulled along, because sometimes I felt too exhausted to move anymore.

      The days are long and hard, but every struggle and every tear is worth it. The reward is so much greater than the pain. Remember – no matter what it looks like now, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope.

      Like

  6. April says:

    You may down-play your parenting, but what you have accomplished is amazing. The first step was to not give up when you didn’t accept that a “professional” has ALL the answers. They are often wrong. The achievements your son has made may seem insignificant to those professionals, but to him, they are huge. For you, they are huge. It takes a special person to fight and not give up, simply because the professionals say one should.

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  7. Pingback: Fellow Blogger – Me – Who am I? | It Goes On

  8. I’m very happy to read, that you don’t give up and don’t believe all the professionals. Your son is coming a long way, thanks to you. What kind of autism does he has?

    Many years ago, before blogging time, sad enough, I had a son diagnosted the same. I fighted like hell, it costed the relationship with the father too, and I had a 3 years old daughter too, who was and are very bright, so I do really understand your fight.
    My son tried to disappear from the world, when he was around 3 years old. I holded him and forced him to look at me and answer, when I talked to him. The professionals told me, I was doing this very wrong, I was not allowed to force him to anything. But I felt, that I was losing him totally, if I did not force this.
    It ended up with, that he came back to the world, and had struggles in special schools too, but today he is almost 26 years old, next month, around 1 year ago he ended his education as a glasshouse gardener, he lives with a nice girlfriend, so you just believe, it is possible. Never give up. Never.

    You just got a new follower, Sue was introducing you.
    Irene

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      Irene, thank you for sharing the story of your son. I like how you went with your motherly instincts instead of what the professionals said to do. Each child is different and therefore they require different methods in learning. There is a lot of hope for these kids and your son’s story is a great example of that.

      Like

  9. Cindi says:

    Such and honest and inspiring post. You are a strong woman, and a wonderful Mom!

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      Cindi, I felt that so many of my posts only show the good side, but people also need to see the “ugly” side so they’ll know that they’re not alone. Thank you so much for your kind words.

      Like

  10. Jenna Dee says:

    This is the most heartfelt and inspirational post I have ever read. You are an amazing woman with an equally amazing son. Good on you for never giving up. You deserve every happiness. To me your life so far is the definition of success. Love Jenna

    Like

  11. pardenme says:

    Mere words cannot express how proud I am of you and my precious Grandson. I love you both so very much.

    Like

  12. Beautiful words beautiful mum, I have a son on the spectrum and I know I have learned to have high expectations for him when others don’t. You expressed the years of challenges so well, N is for never give up in our house, even though there are days when I feel like it. Thank you for sharing your battle, every child is different and learns in there own special way. Blessings on you and your family.

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      Thank you very much. I like your statement, “high expectations for him when others don’t” – that’s the key. We as parents, know our children better than anyone else. We believe in them and don’t limit their potential. Never give up is a great rule to live by. Days may be hard, but each one will be worth the struggle at the end.

      Like

  13. autismschild8 says:

    What an amazing and inspirational story. My son is 8 and I am where you were at, we know that he will never be able to live an independent life and he has little to no communication skills, hampered by severe autism and learning disabilities. I hold out hope every day that one day, sometime in the future, he will utter that magical word ‘Mummy’. And I just know that if he ever does, I will collapse on the floor in a heap of tears. I am so pleased that your son is now progressing so well. Congratulations on all that you have both achieved.

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      Thank you for this wonderful comment. I feel for you, as I know how hard it can be. Keeping holding onto that hope that he’ll speak that word that you so badly want to hear. Our sons may not be like other boys, but they have so much to give – in their own special way. One thing I noticed with my son, is that as he began to mature, he naturally overcame some of his issues (behaviors and such). Others, like communication and social skills are still a constant work, but with time he’s getting better and I’m sure your son will achieve a great deal of progression also.

      Like

      • autismschild8 says:

        Thank you – that is really encouraging to hear. We do see so many little improvements day to day.. I think it is just the not knowing that is the hardest. We don’t know what point of development he will reach, whether it will ever just stop or what the future holds. All of these feelings I am sure you are more than familiar.

        Like

  14. Thank you very much for sharing this.

    Your never give up hope and relentless effort are the light of love to your son, and be a real inspiration in raising my sons.

    I hope the best to you and your son.

    Like

    • mewhoami says:

      Thank you. That’s just it. We can never give up hope, and we must always put in the work and the time to help our children reach their full potential. With our help and encouragement, our children can accomplish anything.

      Like

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