Today I want to share with you something personal about my family. My older son, who recently turned eighteen, has Asperger’s Syndrome. For those who do not know what this is, it is a form of autism; a high-functioning autism. I always knew that Malachi was different. Even at birth he would not latch on to nurse, and for days afterwards would not take in much formula or breast milk. I was in tears. Being a new mom, I was petrified. What if I dropped him? What if he would never latch on? I felt like such a failure as a mom and became preoccupied with thoughts of suicide. If I was dead, I reasoned in my depressed mind, my husband could marry someone else and get a better mother for my son.
But through dealing with postpartum depression for months afterward I can plead with those who are struggling with feelings of depression, and are having suicidal tendencies, to get help. Talk to someone. It does get better. I got better. I came to realize that I WAS the best mother for MY son. I had started meeting with a lovely older lady named Hertha from our church who came weekly to my home to discuss how I was feeling and share scripture with me. Again, life does get easier. But it does take time. Do not keep those feelings inside. Talk to someone. Share what you are going through.
As Malachi developed, or should I say through his lack of development, I began to discover deep in my ‘mother’s intuition’ state that there was something different about my son. He was not reaching those milestones that all the baby magazines pointed to. The rolling over, the crawling, the walking. I had even brought my concerns to the family doctor who told me not to worry; that every child progresses at their own pace. But still I wasn’t convinced.
In our church’s preschool, they discovered that he was ‘developmentally delayed’. My heart sank. What did I do wrong as a parent when he was developing within me? I felt a lot of guilt wondering what I could’ve done differently. He went to special education classes at the local elementary schools back in Berwyn where we used to live. It wasn’t until we moved out to the Northwest suburbs when he was ten that he finally got the help, and we the diagnosis we needed. He had something called, ‘Aspergers’.
I will continue this journey with you tomorrow. Until then, love your children no matter how imperfect they may seem at times. They are a blessing and a gift from God.