Thankful … for autism

I am delighted to introduce guest blogger Barbara Gaither, the proud mother of this year’s National Child Representative for Easter Seals. I met Barbara, her son Scottie and the rest of the wonderful Gaither family at the Easter Seals National convention last month.
— Beth Finke

Watch a video about Scottie and the Gaither family and see how you can give help and hope to children like him.

What I am thankful for
by Barbara Gaither 

Happy Gaither familyThis time of year, I find myself reflecting on what I am most thankful for. I have so many things in my life that have truly blessed me, but one of the most amazing blessings is having an autistic son.

Now, I can’t say that I’ve always felt that way.

When Scottie was first diagnosed with autism, I was devastated. He was our last child and our first and only son. We pinned so many hopes and dreams on him when he was born, and with that diagnosis – those dreams seemed to be crashing down one by one.

As the years passed since that initial diagnosis in 2002, I’ve grown more and more thankful for him and his diagnosis. Many would think that I’m crazy — and maybe I am a bit, but he is such a tremendous joy to me and our entire family. He has taught me not to take the little things in life for granted — and by watching him grow and learn, I have learned so very much.

It’s simply amazing. Sometimes, I wonder what life without him would be like, or even life without him being autistic and I cannot imagine it. At this point I don’t even want to. I wouldn’t change a thing about him even if I could.

Being selected as the Easter Seals 2008 National Child Representative not only gives a lot more people an opportunity to know and love this wonderful little boy, but it gives us — as a family — a chance to give back. We can give back to Easter Seals as an organization because they have given us more than words could ever express. It also gives us a chance to offer hope to other families facing the darkness of autism.

I hope that somehow, by seeing and hearing our story, there will again be light.

So, as we gather to celebrate this Thanksgiving, I will give thanks for Scottie and his sisters, Sarah and Carly, as well as my husband Shannon and all of our family, including our wonderful Easter Seals family.

Watch a video about how Easter Seals helped our family.


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