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When my daughter and I first heard the words autism my first question was what is the life expectancy for a child with autism and my next question was do you think my grandson will ever have a conversation with us. The first answer was fantastic to hear “he will live as long as he would have if he didn’t have autism the disease doesn’t effect his life expectancy” but the second answer broke my heart “I can’t tell you if he will ever have a conversation or anything more”. When Tyler was born I couldn’t wait to have Grammy Grandson Day, a day that just the two of us would do things together. He was my first grandchild and I had so many dreams for him. Then those words came and all my dreams crashed and my heart was broken. I couldn’t imagine never having a conversation with Tyler or never seeing him accomplish all the things I had dreamt of for him. My grandson would hurt for the rest of his life. It’s been almost two years since his diagnoses and with our support group family and the choices we have given our children things are looking up. It may not be the life I would have expected for him but he is a loving, beautiful and brilliant child that I enjoy spending alone time with. Though Tyler can’t have a conversation his eyes tell me all I need to know. Just the other night with his magna doodle we had a wonderful conversation maybe not like other children would have but we had a good 5 minutes of communicating. I thank God for moments like that and appreciate them greatly. My grandson is the wind beneath my wings and gives me strength to live this new life we live. My grandson gives me more joy then I can express with words. I guess what I learned is that you don’t have to have a conversation to know when someone loves you and you don’t have to be typical to be the best thing that ever happened to this grandma. My granddaughter has sensory issues but she is doing fine she gives me so much conversation that my head spins at times but every time I want to say please Bella I laugh to my self and say God Bless my beautiful Bella she gives me all the conversation one grandma could want and she is truly the smile on my face and the love of my life. I have two beautiful grandchildren that I thank God for every day. Without them life would not be worth living for they are my life. Through our support group I have educated my self and learned that there are other people out there feeling the same way I do and living our life. There are good days and hard days but the good days are more frequent then the hard days lately. I know in my heart that Tyler knows how much we love him and that is very important to me. We are living a different life then we planned on but Tyler’s love is worth every day that we spend in his world. I want to thank my support group family for always being there for me on those days that I question God’s decision and I want to thank them for understanding when no one else does it helps more then words can say.

Deborah Wertalik

Proud grandma of a grandson with autism and a granddaughter with special needs