Living in the Moment

Guest Blog Post by Candi Spitz, Mother of Mirror-Image Twins, Brendan and Jaden, who both have Autism

I will never forget the day the Doctor uttered the words I had been dreading…the twins have Autism.

Though I had known for quite a few months by the time he was able to put it officially on paper, it still took my breath away hearing the words out loud. At the time it seemed as if every hope and dream I had for Brendan and Jaden was now gone. As entered into this new “life” of nonstop doctors and therapists and schedules and routines it became quite apparent that something was missing. Fun! They were no longer getting to have any fun. As important as all of these therapies were, they were still children – and children learn through play.

This was the wake-up call I needed. As their mother, there was no one better qualified to make the decisions of what would work best for my twins. And for them, it was stepping away from many of the traditional therapies to make time for experiences. I began living in the moment. Weekends were now spent traveling to Disney, SeaWorld, zoos, museums, road trips. These trips weren’t easy at first, in fact, there were many Disney trips in the beginning which lasted only minutes before the meltdowns would begin. But each trip became easier and easier. They learned the routines and calendar which lessened any anxiety over the trip, they learned how to handle the noise and crowds and lines. They learned patience. And most importantly they learned that their mom would always put their happiness before all else and would always be by their side to support them as they venture out in the world.

I am so thankful that I started this process when they were only 2 years old. Now at age 11, I have been able to positively adapt their behaviors to be able to handle traveling just about anywhere. Traveling still requires notice so that they can put on their calendars, we maintain the same structure and routines as best we can (from the same hotel for each Disney trip to the order of the parks, etc) and since they are always prepared for when the next trip will be there is never a battle when it’s time to leave.

We must live in the moment and bring these immediate moments of joy to our children. There are days when I sit back and panic and wonder how I am going to be able to pay for these opportunities. And the “planner” inside of me wants to save every penny I can as there are days when I have no idea how I am even going to be able to pay the bills. But then I see their eyes light up when they start to verbalize their plans. Words I never thought I would ever hear come out. And in their own way, they show so much joy and happiness and excitement. It is in those moments that I know that whatever bill or obligation can wait— there is nothing in this world more important than that moment of connection.

It is not an easy road, and for most of us, our children will require lifetime care. However, one thing I know for sure is that these experiences have taught my twins more they could have ever learned through school and therapy and has prepared them for the real world.

Live in the moment. Take the time to enjoy your children. Autism is only one small aspect of who they are. They are first and foremost CHILDREN. Work can wait…. allow them to learn through play… make their happiness the most important thing in your life. I promise that you will see them progress by leaps and bounds.