Accepting My Son’s Autism Diagnosis

A year ago, in August, my youngest son Jaxon was diagnosed with nonverbal autism. For my husband and me, this was not news. It was confirmation of what we already knew. Although we knew this, the reality of the autism diagnosis was still hard and overwhelming. 

I remember crying when I would discuss his diagnosis. People would say how sorry they were. Others thought the diagnosis was unnecessary and what was normal anyway? Why would we want Jaxon to be labeled with autism. We had more meetings and evaluations to determine eligibility for Gwinnett County’s Special Needs Pre-K program. Those were emotionally draining. It’s hard to hear experts talk about your baby in such clinical terms. 

Jaxon did meet the requirements and was accepted into the program. I cried more. It was hard enough with his therapies. On his third birthday, I’m going to send my nonverbal autistic son to school?! I was guilt-ridden; I just wanted to “fix” him. I realized I couldn’t do what he needed. So after meeting his teacher, we decided it was in his best interest to send him to school.

On November 3, 2017, Jaxon had his first day of school. I cried all the way home. How could I leave my baby?! Again more mommy guilt. After his first two weeks in school, I decided to stop crying.

Jaxon loved school. In just two weeks he was signing for more. That was a huge step! He wouldn’t sign for me. His speech therapist at school and his teacher were doing great with him. Each morning he would wake up and eagerly wait for the school bus. 

Jaxon will start school again in a few days. Luckily he will have the same teacher as last year. Now he’s signing (American Sign Language) for more, help, please, yes, thank you, drink and eat. He’s even using some words. He says, “yes,” “please,” “hi,” “bye,” “dadda,” and “momma” along with some other words. When he finally said, “momma” my heart was overjoyed. I cried tears of happiness. 

His interaction with others has increased and it’s great to see him make friends. My husband and I went through some rough patches in our marriage but we’ve become better partners through this process. Our schedule is hectic with his schooling and therapies but it’s all been worth it. 

Autism is not a label. It’s a medical diagnosis. Doctors aren’t handing out the diagnosis like candy. It’s a grueling and detailed process to get evaluated for autism. For us, to see his progress has made it all worth it. We have had to overcome some stigma and ignorance. Thankfully those people are the minority. Most people adore our son and cheer him on. 

I am so grateful for the special needs moms in my life. They have taught me strength and resilience. I’m grateful for the support groups both in person and online who have reassured me I’m not alone. I’m thankful for our village who help with Jaxon and for my husband who has had an open mind and heart for his son. He’s fully engaged in his therapies just as much as I am.  I’m grateful for my 7-year-old daughter who is Jaxon’s protector and best friend.

This has not been the easiest year for us, but we have learned to not just survive but thrive as a family.  An autism diagnosis is not the end of the world. For me, it’s opened many doors for my son and myself.  

So, if you are reading this and you think your child might have autism just know the earlier the intervention the better your child will be. I had to fight to get his pediatrician to see he needed the intervention at 2. But it was worth it. I didn’t want the stigma of getting help to hold either of us back. I’m so grateful for the early intervention and putting his needs first over my anxiety and fears. 


  1. Thanks for sharing Coleen! When I read your article, I was reading exactly the SAME feelings I had this past February when my seeet daughter was diagnosed with ASD. I still get a little emotional when I discuss her situation with others, but it’s getting better. She also attends a special needs pre-k in Gwinnett, as we live in Suwanee. She is the light of our lives and is a bundle of joy who is so smart and sweet! She has is thriving since we have been able to get her early intervention services and therapies. It’s a continuous journey, but one I would not change for anything!

  2. I feel the same way! I’m so happy for your daughter and for you as her sweet momma. It’s so great to see them blossom.

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