All Different

I understand now the little light in her eyes when she told me. I was twenty six. The social worker hugging her clipboard apologetically. Understanding something that I didn’t yet. Tears far back in her eye handing me a life long diagnosis—handing me a secret journey—on a brown clipboard in the tiny green dining room of our second floor apartment. My (then) husband painted it. Humid summer. Abuela cooking beans and pork downstairs.

22 months. Brown curls. 

The video of her running and never turning. Abuelo forever in my mind clapping and my girl not turning. The green hedges he cut. Calling to her. Calling to her. Clapping, clapping and calling — my diapered girl not turning. The smile on my face fading, my heart slowing. 

When it hit me. 

It literally hit me.

Knowing on that beautiful day. Him in his black slacks—I saw the-first-ever-hurt-and-disappointed look. Baby turn your head. 


Baby, turn your head.

Baby, turn your head. 

Baby, turn to me.

The hearing test.

I understand now. 

My (then) husband leaving us. Blaming himself. Me blaming myself, blaming him, too. No room for us. 

Only this.

The fight for her.

We were in a gym, she was running, tumbling screaming and my son on my breast— I turned quickly to her therapist:

I coughed: Will she need an aid? A person with her when she’s older? In school, I mean? When she’s in school I mean? Will she need that?

The look on her beautiful face. The kindest person in the world looking at me and down at my infant son in his stained second-hand-onesie shaking her head, no.

“No.” Then she looked away and I followed her gaze wondering if she’d lied.

Now, I understand.

My son’s diagnosis: 24 months (second-hand onesie.)

When you told me what she’d never do. When you told me what she had and I didn’t understand what you meant. What does it mean?

What does it mean?

Someone tell me! What does it mean?

Baby, turn your head.

Turn to me.

Now, I understand. 

I understand sitting in a PPT where a psychologist tells me that children like mine feel no empathy. 

Cannot relate.

What is empathy? 

My baby girl has so much empathy. 

I understand restraints.

I understand uncomfortable. 

I understand anxiety. 


I understand ABA, BCBA, 504, IEP, PPT, OT, PT, 



I understand 1:1. 

I understand window locks and bolting. 

I understand fight.

I understand police.

I understand why we cried. 

I  understand elopement. 

I know wipes. I know public stripping. I know meltdowns. I know chocking and I know stares. Chewing tubes, weighted vests, swings, body socks, bag packs and clips. 

I understand seeking and input. 

I know waiting and waiting and waiting. 

I understand she is loud and disruptive — Why you want to seclude her? It’s easier for you.

She is loud!

I understand bullying. 

I understand inclusion. I understand least restrictive environment. 

I understand advocate. 

Turn you head, baby girl.

Turn your head.

Turn your head.

On that summer day when she ran past the hedges and past Abuelo. When I stopped and looked at it all different. When I realized it’s not me, it’s not a lack of anything or anyone— something different.

Something is different.

All different

Willow, turn your head!

It’s no one’s fault and no one asked for the clipboard with the diagnosis and the journey. My daughter didn’t ask for it either.

Now, I understand.

See my little girl! See her work hard to fit in. See her work hard to turn for me. See her work hard to fit into our world.

I embrace that little girl. I embrace that mom and I embrace that dad.

Our world is too loud, too fast, too stimulating, too different for her.

Four years later and I understand now.   


I understand now and I forgive.

All different my girl is perfect.

Author: wylerwendy

I’m a mom of a boy and girl on the spectrum— sharing the good and the hard of our journey.

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