By Irisa Leverette, Contributing Blogger. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Durand Academy and Community Services, Inc.
I have played many roles in my life: a child, teenager, sister, friend, student, tutor, professor, wife and mother. Unbeknownst to me, my biggest part began when I had my son Darius. Like most couples, my husband and I were excited having our first child together. However, the role of being parents was not new to us.
In September of 2001, seven days after the terrorists attack on the World Trade Center, I was mourning the loss of my mother, Lillis. After her death, I had to step in and become the caregiver of my dying sister, Veronica and her two children. My sister succumbed to her illness on September 28. It was exactly ten days after my mother. After her passing, we were granted full custody of my nephew Kharey and niece Asia. In all honesty, I thought my mother was going to outlive my sister. I never imagined life without my mother. It is silly to say, but at that time, I thought my mother was going to live forever. I never felt so much pain as when she passed.
On a snowy day in December of 2004, we welcomed our little guy. He was actually a whopper
instead, weighing in at 8 pounds and 11 ounces. He was on time with all his developmental milestones. Darius even started walking at ten months. Then at eighteen months, we noticed that our little guy was different. He was not responding to his name and started talking less. By the time he was three years old, he was diagnosed with Autism.
Today, Autism is my life. It is always on my mind. It is always with me in some shape or form. I want to spread Autism Awareness and Acceptance. I am a Warrior Mom on the battlefield every day. Autism is not a curse; it is just a different world. It is the world that Darius lives in. It is where 1 in 49 children in New Jersey live.
Autism is like a rollercoaster ride: ups and downs and twists and turns. It is the same way that most people view life in general. You have to take it day by day. I used to get stuck in my own negative thoughts. I spent hours crying and feeling hopeless.
I have learned, if you try to couple the present and the future, you will be a walking time bomb. It is okay to shed some tears. I know that it’s healthy and not a sign of weakness. In trying times, you can’t quit trying. God chose me to be Darius’ mother. I have to wrap my mind around HOPE: Having Only Positive Expectations. The Little things are my BIG things.
Autism has taught me to worry about the future less and enjoy the little things in life. You can have a happy Autism Life.
I am not an expert in Autism. Everything I learned about Autism, I learned from Darius. He has taught me how to think outside the box. With this knowledge, it is my responsibility to prepare my son for the world as much as it is to prepare the world for my son.
I am just an Ordinary Mom with an Extraordinary Son.
We are happy to introduce our new guest blogger and “Warrior Mom” Irisa Leverette! Irisa resides in NJ and has an 8 year old son Darius. At 3 years old, Darius was diagnosed with Autism. In the monthly blog series, Irisa will be sharing what life is like as she and her husband raise Darius.