We are lucky. We are blessed. We are fortunate. As rough as this journey may be and feel at times, I would never change our lives for the world. I am all these words and more with my family, and with Owen. Owen has brought out emotions in people, he has brought out understanding from family and friends who had no idea about Autism, and now they are fighting in honour of him to find reasons and cures.
A week ago, my very good friend Victoria wrote to me, and made me aware of an Autism walk being held in Welland, that she saw on TV. She thought it would be a great idea in honour of Owen and his journey, and I was excited as soon as she told me. Right away, I (of course) plastered it all over facebook, that I was going to be walking in honour of my son, and if anyone else is interested, please msg me. We only had a week to work with, and raise money to go to Autism Niagara, so I was on the haunt for a team.
Right away, my friends Jen and her beautiful kids, my friend Val and her fiance Matt and their handsome son, my in-laws, brother in law/sister in law, and of course, Victoria her husband Brad, and their amazing kids joined us in our walk. I had T-Shirts made, which is shown in the picture above, and I was so proud of them, on the front "Autism Affects 110 Children A Year"..and on the back, "Team Owen Carl". Perfect.
We had a great walk, a great day, and it truly showed me how many people that Autism does affect, and how many lives Owen affects that they would walk for him, and be proud to wear a t-shirt with his name on it. I knew we could have had WAY more people, but only with a week to work with, I think we did pretty well, and we are already talking about next year!
As I went around last week, and asked family members to donate to our walk and sponsor us, it was emotional. Emotional because they wanted to talk about Owen, and how much this boy has changed in the last 2 months in therapy, and why he means so much to them. As I went to my nana and grandpa to ask, they were the first that wanted to praise Owen for all he is accomplishing in such a short amount of time. My grandpa was telling me that he lets Owen come to him on his own terms, and doesn't pressure him. When he asks Owen for a kiss goodbye, Owen will give him his forehead for grandpa to kiss, and he said for him, that pulls at his heart. Or when they come over for a visit, and Owen will run up to him, and put his arms up, if almost to scream PICK ME UP!!!!!!! haha.. and I never really knew that my grandpa felt this way about Owen, and now that I know, I think if it is possible, I love him even more.
I also had great compliments and support from everyone, " he is not screaming nearly as much", "he is drinking from a cup? that is HUGE for him!", "he is SINGING AND COUNTING?!"..and of course, I still have some older family members who are still having a harder time understanding Autism, so I had more questions about the disability itself, and why it is so important to raise awareness, and remind them, Owen will never, "grow" out of it, this is him for life. That was hard to say to them, and right now, hard to type.
Last night, I also got to see Owen pull at another heart string..Victorias. We had a crazy bust day, and I did not arrive there until around 6:30pm for her house warming. It was great though, as everyone was gone, and Owen could run around and play, and not feel like he was in the way. Victoria could not believe that Owen was signing to me, and so was Maddie - this was a big accomplishment for us. Later in the evening, we were getting ready to go, but Owen wanted me to sing his favourite poems he has learned from stepping stones, the REAL favourite being, "all around the garden". He likes when I attempt to, "rap" it, so I did. He was dancing, and loving every minute of it. Then he wanted rolie polie, so I did that one as well, and lastly, he wanted to count. He counted on my fingers one by one, and gave me a look, that I only know as thank you mom, I love you. I thought I was the only one that could see this look, and I start to tear up.. it is our thing. To my surprise, I look up from Owen, and there is my Victoria, bawling her eyes out, because in her words, "Owen said I love you mom, without saying a word". Another heart string he pulled, and another friend I have that sees what I see.
I guess the biggest heart string he pulls would be mine and Ryans. When we sit with him and try and reach him in his world, and teach him new things, when he reaches a new milestone, when he learns a word or sign.. watching him play, line up his toys, we do family spinning so he is never spinning alone, dressing himself, counting, being affectionate, being his advocate.. he pulls our hearts everyday.
Right now, Owen doesn't know I attended all the ASD Seminars to learn more, or that we read constantly on Autism, that we get him in everything possible for him to succeed, or that 17 people walked for him and wore their shirts proud.. but he will.