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Tyler & Reyna

I won’t forget both times our pediatrician walked back into the waiting room and told me my toddlers were on the Spectrum. Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism. Autistic. Aspergers. All the different ways of saying the same thing--their brain works differently than mine.

Each time she announced those words, I felt my stomach drop. But I knew in that moment I would do anything to protect them both and fight for them to have the best life I could provide them. I finally had a purpose that was more important than myself. I was scared of what was ahead, but I knew that I was chosen for this.

Love felt different after Tyler was first diagnosed. He was 2 and ½ years old, and struggling to sleep at night and regulate his emotions. He had severe meltdowns whenever I took him out to cafes or social gatherings. I had to gently hold his hands down to stop him scratching his delicate little face. It was painful to watch my little boy willingly hurt himself because he was sensory overloaded. When he was a baby, he would tug on his dad's ears. He would hold mine when we were outside. I loved it when he touched my ears.

Love felt different after Tyler was first diagnosed. He was 2 and ½ years old, and struggling to sleep at night and regulate his emotions.

Tyler was different, and I knew it early on. We never realised he was trying to communicate with us that it was too loud. He couldn’t be left alone--he didn’t feel safe with anyone but mummy and daddy. I became fiercely protective. I learnt how to stand up for him. And then myself. I learnt how to assert myself to ensure he was being accepted and respected, and gained the support of his teachers and school community.

All of these differences, just makes me more fierce for him. He awakened a love giant that I never knew existed within myself. I grew into the mother I always felt unworthy of being.

I cried a lot, fighting for my son's dignity and wellbeing at school. It has taken years of unsuccessful therapy to finally find out he can’t write due to dysgraphia. He also has limited visual imagination, so is unable to follow verbal instructions that are unfamiliar.

All of these differences, just makes me more fierce for him. He awakened a love giant that I never knew existed within myself. I grew into the mother I always felt unworthy of being. Tyler loved me. No conditions. No competition. I was his number one, and still am to this day. And he is my number one most favourite boy in the entire world. Tyler collects crystals and thinks nail polish is cool. I love his interest in nature and special connection with dogs. He is such a groovy kid.

I cried a lot, fighting for my son's dignity and wellbeing at school.

Reyna quickly stole my heart. She was an absolute joy of a baby and my first breastfed child. Breastfeeding her was a life changing experience. My mental health improved dramatically during and after. I became more maternal and connected with my children.

Reyna breastfeeding was a gift--one I will forever be grateful for, one I’ll look back to with fondness and amusement. The drive from San Jose to LA, contorting my body from the front passenger seat to the back to quickly feed a screaming 2-year old before we could find an exit. The crazy things we do for our kids. She got a bottle the next day.

I worry about her growing up, a girl on the spectrum navigating the strange world we live in today.

Reyna was delayed in language, and started to communicate through abstract movie dialogue. She would pull my hand to the pantry and say, “top of the mountain,” to communicate that she wanted a packet of chips on the top shelf. And you guessed it, we watched a lot of Frozen. Reyna is a snuggler. We co-sleep and she still pushes me almost off the bed. I love how she melts into my arms, and tells me I’m soft and warm. I love watching her face change and develop as she grows up. I love her beauty spot, she calls her cutie mark; off of the side of her mouth. Her green eyes and dark eyelashes are incredibly mesmerizing against her pale skin.

Reyna is 5 now, and becoming sassy and independent. She is a daredevil, and loves rides and water slides, the opposite of her brother. She is very dedicated to her schoolwork, despite her delays and poor retention.

She would pull my hand to the pantry and say, “top of the mountain,” to communicate that she wanted a packet of chips on the top shelf.

She always tries and doesn’t give up easily. I worry about her growing up, a girl on the spectrum navigating the strange world we live in today. But I will be here with her every step of the way. Loving her quirks, her unique fashion sense and kikay-ness.

Tyler and Reyna, thank you for choosing me.

Story of Ashlin Eve

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