It Gets Better
By Leslie Staubs | Published on March 2, 2021 | 11 Minute Read
Charlie was born on a Hot and sunny day - at Winney Palmer Hospital in Orlando, Fl.
It was August 13, 2014. Ironically, the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Charley. Sheer coincidence, I promise!
Charlie had some blood sugar complications and was taken to be monitored immediately. I remember how anxious we were, constantly asking,
"When can I feed my baby?
he must be hungry...
Can we see Charlie now?
WHAT'S GOING ON?".
Finally, my husband and I were escorted to the nursery.
There he was, already poked and prodded before I could even count all of his toes and fingers!
Charlie's blood sugar was low, he looked so pitiful with an IV in his tiny hand.
Of course, I was an emotional mommy, blaming myself for drinking that Frappuccino on the way to the hospital! (Still, probably my fault).
Nevertheless, Charlie was perfect for us, in every way! He was truly a happy baby and loving just as he was LOVEABLE. Except for the colic he possessed. Not no so loveable!
As Charlie got older we noticed he was different from our other children. He didn't necessarily make eye contact or answer his name.
One time my grandmother was trying to get his attention with a rattling toy; she would shake the toy and call his name, he didn't acknowledge her, she persisted and he just stared elsewhere.
She looked up at me, I almost got the vibe as if my baby offended her; because he wasn't the typical babbling baby.
Now I know that's not the case, but I'll never forget how insecure I felt because my baby was different.
I wish I could talk to that insecure mother now. I would tell her that different is beautiful and that life is happening for you, not to you.
To suck it up buttercup; because you've got a long road ahead of you, a road that's bumpy and flat out dysfunctional!
It gets better.
At age one, Charlie still showed no interest in talking or even walking. I remember screaming, yes screaming his name in frustration, because he wouldn't even look at me!
I would then hold him and cry, feeling sorry for him, and ask questions like, why us? Why now? Asking God to heal him of whatever this was!
Not knowing that Charlie's mind was incredibly brilliant and complex! That both of our sons may not function like others, but they offered something others can't.
They offer life Lessons that are character building, humbling and above all rewarding!
When I would bring up Charlie and Damon being different, my husband would dismiss it. Saying that, "Boy's are slower than girls" and "Not to worry".
Of course, we were in denial.
Honestly, it was too much to handle.
I forgot to mention that I have multiple sclerosis and the flare-ups have been very hard on my family.
People tell me how inspiring my story is, because I overcame paralysis, lost 85% of my eyesight, etc, etc.
It's my family that deserves the praise!
What an unstoppable team they are!
My daughter who is now 15, has developed more emotional intelligence than I had in my entire pinky at her age!
My husband who could have abandoned ship along time ago has held up his end of our vows. At one point I was a full care patient, and he stuck by my side and kept our tiny humans safe and alive!
At 18 months Charlie finally learns to walk. We could hear the Hallelujah chorus... But still, no words.
We nicknamed him - "Charlie Church Mouse" (quiet as a Church Mouse!).
It was the 4th of July and I was in the hospital again, when Charlie spoke for the first time. He gasped "WOW!" At the fireworks. That was one month before his 3rd birthday.
Yes, I was disappointed that I didn't witness it, but that was just the beginning!
When I finally came home, Charlie was singing along with songs, and my heart just melted!
I believe the first word he emphasized was, E-L-E-P-H-A-N-T.
I didn't miss that one! And of course, we rejoice and praise him as we do with all of our kids, if not more because we have longed to hear his sweet voice!
Charlie was 2.5 years old by the time my exacerbations calmed down and we had the courage to get him properly assessed.
Our uncertainty was confirmed and Charlie was diagnosed with Non-verbal Autism.
Did you know that 1/3 of those diagnosed with Autism are non-verbal? I didn't.
At this point, Charlie almost "Aged out" of any 'Early intervention Programs'. Another reason why awareness is so important!
Charlie is almost 7 years old now and he has made significant improvements.
He has developed a language all on his own, yet continues to learn the English language and certain signs to communicate. Communication can be very challenging for those with ASD. Visuals and pictures of everyday task helps.
Be encouraged, parents, and loved ones.
I promise that in time, you'll adapt, learn, and develop a system that works for you and your family.
I can't change the past, and yes I could blame myself, and live in shame.
I can blame circumstances, ignorance, being fearful and unaware.
Or I can spread our message,
I can encourage others who just don't get it yet. We can love and accept differences and shout out it's "OK" to be different!
My most profound advice is this.
If you suspect or see any signs of autism, talk to your physician immediately...
Don't be afraid or in denial, You'll only be robbing your child of potential, further development.
I implore you to seek, ask, OBSESS over finding your son or daughter the best resources available. In return, you will have some peace of mind and get your baby the help they need.
It's 2021 now and LOCAL autism resources are limited. Not to worry. The internet is full of resources, support groups, and education on the subject of Autism spectrum disorder.
Just remember, it gets better.
About the Author
Hey there! My name Leslie Staubs and this momma runs on Jesus, coffee and chaos!
I am legally blind and overcame paralysis with the care and support of my loyal husband. We have 2 beautifully different boys. Charlie who's 6 and nonverbal and Damon who's not quite on the spectrum, but requires special education. Hannah is my brilliant 15 yr old who has always been a team player! And then there's Maddie! Our our 3 yr old boss baby!
We've had a bumby road and life is finally slowing down. I haven't had any significant flare ups since 2017, so now it's my turn to serve and be here for my family and others!
I am new to advocacy and I love how the more I learn the closer I feel to the cause. I love to write and create, so I make Free Printables for homeschooling and rainy day activities!
Feel free to connect with me any time, the Autism Community has been so kind and welcoming, thank you!!
And a BIG THANK YOU TO @embracingspecialneeds
for sharing our story!
- Leslie Staubs @CharlieSpeaksAwareness