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I wouldn’t take anything for my journey now. The courage that a child has may be where your strength comes from. I faced the biggest challenge of my life the week I found out that I had become the mother of a special needs child. The day was bright and cold as any other. Little did I know that it would be the appointment that would change our lives forever? I dressed all my little ones, put them in the car and drove to the sitter’s house where I dropped two of the boys off. “Lil Man” as-we all call him, and myself headed down I-40 to Winston Salem, a 45 minute drive of nothing but worry and agony.

I pulled into the parking deck, got “Lil Man” out the car and made the walk through the silence of long halls. As my son and I entered through the doors of the office and we sat in the chairs that lined the pale white walls, I began to shake with nervousness and became nauseated. I didn’t want to think of the worst but in all reality I knew the inevitable. The door than opened and the sound of Rodney Livingston’s name rang in the ears of all who was near. We proceeded to the consultation room and as we entered the doctor said “have a seat please”. At that point my mind went blank and everything soon became a blur.

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What took all of five minutes seemed like hours. The doctor said “Mrs. Livingston; sorry to have to tell you this but your child is autistic”. My heart began to pound, tears poured down my face and my whole body began to tremble. I wanted to run in disbelief but I was stuck, couldn’t move. I couldn’t focus and comprehend anything else from that moment that was being said. I sat in shock for 15 minutes, I got up and all I could say was “Thank You” and I walked out. During the walk to the car, the halls seemed dark and as if they were closing in on me. I pinched myself thinking that it was a dream.

Lil Man” and I got into the car and drove off. The 45 minute drive home seemed like the longest drive ever. As I was driving I kept going over and over in my heads what I had just been told, however it still wasn’t clear. I looked in the rear view mirror at “Lil Man”; he sat there looking out the window with a sense of peace. His expression and mere smirk let me know that he understood that his life would never be the same. That confirmation eased my mind and gave me a sense of courage and strength to push forward. It showed me that he accepted his new found challenges and would face them with courage and willpower.

After arriving home, I sat in dismay on the carport, held “Lil Man” as tight as I could and wept. He said “Mommy it ok”, first thing I had heard him say since we arrived earlier at the doctor. Hearing my son tell me that it is ok was all I needed to know that we would get through this. I can’t really recall what happened the rest of the week, however with time things are bound to get easier. Every day brings new challenges; we take them one day at a time and face them head on. With the grace of god we will make it through. The everyday challenges he faces are astronomical compared to the ones I face as his mother.

The language barrier and understanding his wants and his needs can become a very overwhelming for all. The challenge of dressing himself is his biggest hardship, with time and practice he will be a master. I know I live and breathe to gain knowledge, courage and strength from him. I really can’t imagine how my life could be different; this is all I have known for so long. “Lil Man” is my strength, after having faced the biggest challenge of my life the week I found out that I had become the mother of a special needs child, my life is perfect and just how God intended it to be.

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