“When God closes a door, He opens a window.” (Author unknown)
As I stood in front of 80 moms at the National Autism Association of North Texas Autism Moms’ Evening Out on May 4th, I was in awe of all the hard work, determination and love that was packed into one room. The inner strength of this group of women was truly inspiring.
As my eyes scanned the room, bouncing from face to face in the crowd, I was humbled by the fact the each of these women had traveled the same road I had...and all had become stronger, braver and more compassionate than they once were. Some were familiar faces that brought back memories from a specific struggle in my autism journey. Others were new faces. But it didn’t matter, we already knew each other.
For each of us had heard those dreaded words, “Your child has autism.” Each of us has stumbled trying to put our child back together again piece-by- piece. And each of us has our own book-worthy story. The stories my differ in the details, but in the end we all want the same thing….healing for our child.
When Lizzie was about 22 months old, I was told by a speech therapist friend, “Run! Do not walk to a developmental pediatrician!” The words stung but were necessary to get us moving in the right direction. Lizzie was a classic case of autism; she fit every criteria. She needed to be officially diagnosed, and we needed guidance. I started making phone calls and became discouraged to find a 6-8 month waiting list. Each phone call led to another closed door:
“No, we are not seeing new patients.”
“No, we cannot see your daughter for at least six months, maybe longer.”
“No, we do not take your insurance.”
I didn’t understand how this was possible. I desperately wanted to help my child, but was I going to have to wait half-a-year or more to even get started? Time was of the essence and this “system” did not make sense!
Just as all the doors were closed, God opened a window. A sweet friend’s son was a current patient at the developmental pediatrician that was at the top of my list. She mentioned that he had an appointment coming up, and she would be willing to give up her son’s valuable six month visit for me to take Lizzie in. Her kindness and sacrifice was so overwhelming that even now when I think of it, I get tears in my eyes.
This is when I realized that one mother’s sacrifice is another mother’s lifeline. It is up to us to care for each other, because we are the only ones that truly understand what we are going though. This is the reason autism moms feel such a strong bond without even really knowing each other.
Now when I wake up each day, I pray that God will use me as a window. What is the point of our struggle if cannot use what we have learned to help ease the pain of the next mom going through these same circumstances? I may not be perfect and I may not have it all together, but I can be a window. And you can, too.
Click Hopebrand to view the video we showed at the Moms’ Event. I look at the faces of these beautiful windows and have the comfort of knowing that together we can open doors for our children.
By the way, many of you reading this know the wonderful mom who was my window. Thank you Angie Potter!
Julie Hornok has been married to her wonderful husband, Greg, for 14 years and is the mother of three children, Andrew, Lizzie and Noah. Lizzie was diagnosed with moderate autism at 2 years old and now, at age 9, is mainstreamed in school and enthusiastically enjoys relationships with friends and family. Julie feels blessed that her daughter has come so far and enjoys spending her free time helping moms with a new autism diagnosis and sharing the small bits of wisdom she has learned along the way. Julie also loves to give back to the community by putting together special needs events. Feel free to see Lizzie’s progress on video on her blog www.lizziehornok.blogspot.com.