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Meet my daughter ...

National Autism Awareness Month, Bjlane Art

Title: "Smell the Daisies"

Medium: Acrylic and Oil Pastel on Canvas Panel

Size: 18"x24"


Meet my daughter: Tammy

Diagnosis: "Autism with Developmental Delays"

Born the last of three children, I sensed from the beginning Tammy was different. She had a different cry. Her voice was not developing. She didn't mimic facial expressions. Her body development wasn't following the same pattern as my other children. She wouldn't look at me, or respond to my gifts of tender mothering. With no understandable language. Was something wrong with my beautiful, big eyed, blond haired baby girl? I hesitated ... was it fair to compare her to her older siblings? "Each child develops differently", I told myself, as I pushed the internal warnings back inside. Comparing ourselves with others is not good ... sometimes. Encouraged by the pediatricians that Tammy was only "slightly delayed"... that "sometimes we develop differently ... for example, boys sometimes don't get their language until later", and "not to worry", her diagnosis was finally fully disclosed at 4-years-old. I still recall the stinging words that I would soon learn so well, "Ohhh, hmmmm, She has a developmentally disability, and will need a lifetime of support", he stated under his breath as he watched Tammy run down the hallway oblivious to her siblings trying to redirect her. "I think she has Autism." The Pediatrician handed me a doctor's note. "Here is who you need to contact." It read, "Regional Center" and the telephone number was attached. A burning sensation in my solar plexus traveled upward. My eyes filled with liquid as I tried to put out the fire. My secret fears were a reality. For 4 years, I had hoped and prayed that my child was ok. For 4 years, I had questioned, evaluated, asked friends, asked relatives, and asked her doctor. Finally, here it was ... something HAD been wrong. I was angry with the doctor. I was angry with myself for not pushing for an answer earlier. As I felt the doctor's note in my hand, I felt that Tammy's Pediatrician had wiped his hands clean. "It's your problem now, not mine", I heard his voice in my mind. Arriving home with my three girls, On a mother's mission., I began the search for some answers. I found my 1964 Encyclopedia Brittanica. "Nothing listed on "Autism" or "Developmental disability" here". I looked in the "New Illustrated Meical Encyclopedia and Guide to Family Health" ©1988. "Nothin Here." Finally I found a tidbit of information: Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary ©1987 had this definition: "Autism: absorption in self-centered subjective mental activity (as daydreams, fantasies, delusion, and hallucinations) esp. when accompanied by marked withdrawal from reality". Its hard to realize this was only 20 years ago. These were the days before Computers in the home, Google, and Search Engines. Only home reference books and libraries had access to more information. I reached out for help. I picked up the doctor's note, and dialed Regional Center. I listened. I got connected. I researched. I got involved. I learned, I gave my heart. And the journey began ...




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