How my autistic son helped me find my writing voice

I am a writer and have been all of my life. I wrote in diaries as a teenager, started writing poetry in my early twenties, and then continued with fiction short stories and later novels. My dream was to work as a journalist and freelance writer writing fiction or non-fiction articles on subjects that interested me. What happened to that dream? I was simply afraid to pursue it. I was afraid I was not good enough to write and make a living at it. I went on to University and did a BA in Sociology, as people and the way they interacted with one another fascinated me. It was also because I knew it would open up many career paths after graduation. I wanted to get out in the work world, marry my then boyfriend, and start my adult life.

IMAG1098I did all that and started working in many diverse and interesting administrative and secretarial jobs that never satisfied me, but helped my now husband and me pay our mortgage and other bills. I hit thirty years old, and two thoughts came at me simultaneously: I want to have a baby and I want to open up my own writing business. So we began the task of trying for a baby first. It did not happen right away as is common for many couples. I think a big reason was that I was in a job that was really awful at the time. I left that job intending to finally set myself up with my own freelance business, but my lack of confidence and fear of instability set in once more. I took the first job I found close to home. It was closer to my dream as I was working in proofreading as well as sales assistant work, and soon after starting I became pregnant. The stress of the environment and a scare on the ultrasound that proved false, led me to the decision to leave that last job. I remember promising myself after the baby was born and all was well, I would come back to the idea of opening up my business when he was older.

I gave birth nine months later to a beautiful baby boy. He was healthy and a good size despite a very long IMAG0927and painful labor ending in an emergency caesarian section. I loved being a new Mom, and though sleep deprivation was hard, cherished the moments I had with him. As he hit his first birthday, I began to worry about when I would go back to work. At the same time, I began to notice my little boy was not like other children.

In another year’s time, I realized that my son had autism. I had never been so scared in all of my life. As a close friend described it, I felt like I was falling through the air with no net.

I began to eat, sleep and dream autism, and my sole purpose in those days was rescuing my son from his inner world and a bleak future. In the next few years, through the right network of early intervention services, and two wonderful schools, my son thrived and is now an amazingly intelligent eight year old boy.

It was after he had started in the wonderful adapted primary school he is in now, that I realized I could now go back to work. But I also needed to find a job that was flexible and that I was passionate about. I started writing about my journey in coming to terms with my son’s autism, and about the funny things he says and does. I shared them in my writers’ groups. The stories and little anecdotes about my son became a personal blog that I now write daily. And the other day the irony hit me. I thought that all those early years I was the one helping my son.

I now realize that he was also helping me find my way again.

He brought me into his world too, the world of autism where things are different, sometimes difficult, sometimes incredible, and yet always magical and in the moment. He got me to see what real beauty is, and that perfection is only a word. Thank you my sweet boy. Now, I am finally dreaming big too!

-Joanne Giacomini

Joanne Giacomini is a writer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction stories. She has published three poetry chapbooks, had her short stories featured in anthologies, and written three fiction novels. She now blogs about how her son with autism is raising her at “Exceptional Mom/Exceptional Child” and at Hufft Post Parents Canada about parenting and special needs issues. Her articles about autism have been published online at “Oh Baby Magazine”, “The West Island Blog” as well as on “The Mummies List”. Check out her Facebook page “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance” and follow her on Twitter at @exceptmomchild.


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