Twenty –three years ago today our daughter Alex was born. With all of the hopes and desires (and fears) that any parents have for a brand new baby, we never thought that the words pervasive development disorder, Asperger’s and autism would become part of our lexicon. Nevertheless, just past Alex’s second birthday, she was diagnosed with PDD which would later be refined to Asperger’s and today Autism Spectrum Disorder. Of course the news was devastating and our immediate reaction was why Alex, why us and what are we going to do.
We felt sorry for ourselves (and Alex) and were immobilized. The date was July 6, 1998, and after an hour of self-pity we realized that we didn’t have time for that and if we were going to find a school and other services for Alex for September, we had better get going. Within the next several days, we had appointments with Westchester County coordinators, schools and therapists. The therapists who diagnosed Alex put us in touch with the County coordinator who then led us to the others.
Today, on Alex’s birthday and on the eve of Mother’s Day, Alex has graduated from high school with a Regents Diploma, graduated cum laude from SUNY Purchase College, and is employed at a financial services firm in White Plains. Most important, Alex is happy, truly loves her job and feels fulfilled. Is Alex leading the life that we had imagined for her 23 years ago? No. Is she a loving, funny, engaging and accomplished young woman who is and always has been an incredible source of joy and pride? Absolutely.
As her parents, we would love to say it is all because of us. The truth is that Alex is where she is today because (1) she was diagnosed early and (2) we had an army of support from way too many people to list – from coordinators to therapists, to teachers and counselors, to agencies and not-for-profit organizations. Included and very special to Alex is Girl AGain* which has provided training on so many levels.
Today we continue to be overwhelmed when it comes to Alex – we are overwhelmed by the impact of early intervention and the dedication and support that so many people have provided to our daughter. We will be forever grateful!
Trish and Jonathan B.
May 9, 2019