Friday, October 2, 2015

Autism Educational Series—Getting a Diagnosis—Jax

Hi!  My name is Molly. I am a wife to a California Highway Patrol officer and a mother to 4 kids: three busy boys, and a daughter. Our third little fire-red-headed boy, Jax, was recently diagnosed with autism.  We are learning to laugh and embrace the fact that because of him, we get to see the world in new ways. Every day is a new adventure, but so far it’s a pretty amazing view!  You can follow our story on instagram, @kipnmolly.

My son is developmentally delayed, and has autism. My head knows it, but my heart still struggles with it.
But today, I just want to have my son be okay. Not for me, but for him. I want him to tell me how he got the scrapes on his leg. To go potty instead of screaming and throwing himself off repeatedly. I want to take him to the store without him climbing out of the cart and bolting away. I kept longing for him to “grow out of this phase,” to stop caring about the textures of his food and clothes, to let me dry his hair with a towel without throwing a fit.

I knew something wasn’t right and I was hoping things would just click for him again. I had a sweet family member come to me with concerns about Jax. She told me about her friend’s child with autism and some of the similarities, but that wasn’t my Jax. He only has speech and behavior problems, there’s no way he has autism. He interacted with his siblings, he could say some words, surely it wasn’t autism.

Jax’s friends were now talking in sentences, while my son was saying the bare minimum, and this was hard, because my son was regressing. I started to become “too busy” for play dates, or say, “I have a headache.” I used any excuse, because some days it was honestly just too heart-wrenching to watch him with kids above his level.

He already had a speech evaluation through the school district, but because of behavior issues, he needed more evaluations. Good luck, I thought, this boy has German and Irish blood flowing through this body. He’s just stubborn; when he’s ready he will talk and behave. To me, nothing explained all the behaviors that were crammed into the body of my three-year-old little boy.

June 23, 2015, time stood still for us: Jax saw a psychologist. I told her on the phone not to tell me that he had autism, because I could prove it. I had heard of and seen people (even a family member) that had autism, but my son wasn’t like any of them. I collected videos and pictures of him interacting with his siblings to show he had deep relationships. But I now call her an “angel” sent in disguise because she delivered a difficult message.

About 10 minutes after her arrival, my fears were being realized, and I needed to prepare myself. The one-hour appointment turned into three, and watching the evaluation was unbearable. As she explained his behaviors, and how autism is like a snowflake— totally different for every child—I felt so overwhelmed and emotional. All the so-called proof that I had collected only validated what she said, and I slowly started to feel like the walls were caving in, suffocating me.

I knew she was right, but I also had experience with a disability (Down syndrome/autism) with my own brother, and although I love my brother with all my heart, I knew this road wasn’t easy. Could I bear to go down it yet again with my own son? The second the psychologist left, and I called my mom. The moment I heard her voice, I instantly began to cry. My husband then walked into the room and just held me while I cried.

That night I didn’t even attempt to sleep because I realized I had to try to let go of the son I once knew, and be okay with what Jax would inevitably face. I didn’t want to let go, though; I just wanted him to be my son, Jax, the redheaded, silly boy that he had been 6 months ago. The little boy that, although was sick often, was a happy toddler.

I didn’t picture this as my beautiful heartbreak, but we aren’t the producers of our stories, we are simply the writers. We are given blessings and challenges; we choose how we handle it. Interestingly, I had always known that Jax’s story was going to be different, before I was pregnant with him. I will love him no matter what, and I will be his advocate, saying what he cannot say.

I wouldn’t trade my boy for the world. Some days, I lose my patience because of his grunting, or feel sleep deprived, but then he gives me a hug or kiss, and I know that he knows his momma loves him, even though he can’t express it. I came across this quote: “One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life. And that with that, she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them. So, she made the decision to survive, using courage, humor and grace.” My husband has been amazingly supportive. My other children will be blessed because having a brother with special needs is the greatest gift that any child could have. Jax’s challenges will only make us all better.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing xxx Those last 2 sentences made me so tearful and thankful x

  2. Thank you. And a big thanks to Molly for sharing her story! :)