Tomorrow is my first triathlon. Today my nephew is being baptized and I'll spend the day with family. Today is also my mom's 63rd birthday. But I'm preoccupied with something else entirely....
I have this professor, Dr. I. Honestly he is one of the reasons I chose to stay in Sacramento and finish my BS at Sac State, I like this professor that much. He loves teaching and loves his area of interest (biomechanics) and it shows in his lectures and labs. Quite frankly, he is awesome. Over the past year we have developed a sorta friendship. I consider it a perk of being an older student, its easier to relate to your professors and they have an easier time relating to you. Dr. I's wife was pregnant at the end of my fall semester, they were expecting twins and it was all quite exciting. He (they) were anxiously awaiting child 2 & 3 all at once as they already had a 2 year old.
Spring semester started in late Jan. and on the first day of class I asked him how his wife was doing... *long pause from him....* The twins were born 1 week prior, but weren't due until March. 2 months early. For weeks Dr. I wore 2 NICU hospital bands around his left wrist, and while he was nearly his normal cheerful self in class, I knew that things were rough for him. His babies were in the hospital for 6 weeks. Sometimes after class we'd talk, he'd say they were "taking things day by day."
I shared a story of family friends who had twin sons about a year after I was born. They were in and out of the hospital for the first 3 months of life... and now are healthy young men, finishing college, one is getting married later this fall. Dr. I was relived to hear my story, relived to hear that it can turn out ok despite rough beginnings.
Now they are home, but their immune systems are still very fragile so they can't have family or friends over. Dr. I admits to being completely overwhelmed. "Normally my in-laws or my parents would be visiting, offering help and assistance. They are chomping at the bit to do so... but we can't risk having people over yet." I want to give him a big hug (but I don't, because I'm pretty sure that would be weird), and tell him it will be ok.
Couple days ago I asked him again how things are going... Dr. I has been on paternity leave, teaching only 2 1-hr lectures a week so he has been able to be home to help his wife. Turns out his main responsibility has been to be with his 2.5 year old son, who is not adjusting well to having new kids in the house to share attention with. But that isn't the real issue...
"I think there is something wrong with my son, spending this time with him is making me realize that I can't ignore that he is... not progressing like he should be"
Dr, I's 2.5 year old is nearly nonverbal. He becomes obsessed with spinning wheels. He sometimes side-eyes things. Dr. I thinks his son might be Autistic.
I can seen the worry in his eyes. Dr. I is a smart guy, but he is totally out of his element when it comes to this.
For 2 years I worked with Autistic kids as an in-home behavioral and cognitive tutor. I am not an expert, but I have stories. Hopeful, helpful, amazing stories. So I share some of them. I share my story about one of the kiddos I worked with graduating from program and entering typical 1st grade, full-time, as a 6 year old. He is incredible and amazing, loves to ride bikes and swim in the pool. He has friends over for slumber parties. If you met this kiddo you'd never know that a couple years ago he was non-verbal. Another story I share is of my cousin, who has Asperger's, but is graduating from college this year.
I tell Dr. I that he shouldn't be afraid of getting his son tested or of the diagnosis that it may lead to. A diagnosis opens doors to resources and help that will make the journey less overwhelming. He will not be alone.
I've been replaying this conversation with Dr. I in my head for several days now. I worried for a brief moment that I may have given him false hope, but have realized that they is no such thing in this moment. Now I'm just sending his family the best and most positive of thoughts. Come what may, I pray for strength and solidity for him and his family. Between his three kids, Dr. I could use all the help from God, or the universe, or whatever you want to call it.
And I suppose now, I'm asking the same from you.