A Mommy Story: There’s Something About Hannah

In this edition of A Mommy Story, we meet Liz and her daughter Hannah.  As Liz dealt with her daughter’s diagnosis, she learned to grow to love both herself and her daughter.

Dealing with Autism and Depression - thismommyisreal.com

As any first time parent, things were exciting and new for us. Our baby was growing and doing things like any child would. We took her to checkups, got shots and so on. Then, one day, I heard something that no mom expects…

There’s something off with Hannah. She should be talking and her milestones are a little behind”.

No one ever wants to be told that something is wrong with their kid, especially if they are a first time parent.  I really had no idea she was “off”.  So, speech therapy, here we come.  Then, we heard something else.

“There’s something off with Hannah. She seems to be on the spectrum.”

So, Autism Testing Center, here we come.  At 18 months, their testing wasn’t long.  I was in denial of the whole thing. She’s 18 months! There’s nothing wrong. She’s just behind. Unfortunately, because of those test results, I began reading bogus things that “make her on the spectrum”; things I had yet to teach Hannah.  Things like potty training which I hadn’t even started.  Yet, that was one reason why she was on the spectrum. Huh? I was confused. She danced with me.  She mimicked “Dance-a-lot Robot” and his bird dance. She clapped like a bird in session.  Yet, she’s autistic. So naturally, I thought this was bogus.

The lady who tested my child had expertise in this.  How could I be mad or in denial? So, I settled and I listened to her, as she talked down to me.  I listened to the constant reminder that my child “is autistic”.  My favorite line was  “If you don’t do anything to help your kid, you are a bad mom”.

Wait, what?! I never said that I wasn’t doing anything. I was confused. I walked back to my car and sobbed. I just sat in a room with a “professional”,  who had no bed side manners. What they said ripped me apart. That was the moment when I started to pick myself apart as a mother and Hannah as my child. I went from mom who struggled a little bit to one who was scared of the unknown. I began to look at my child as “wrong”. What did I do wrong? Why is she different? Why can’t she be normal?

When my depression hit, the darkness came.  I started to hate motherhood. I didn’t look forward to things. I realize now that it was depression. But, back then, I just thought it was the constant struggle of ABA therapists, speech, motherhood and doctors telling me “There’s something off with Hannah”.

During my second pregnancy, I was terrified that the baby was going to be autistic as well. We relocated after Kaleigh was born.  We endured more rounds of doctor appointments, referrals, new therapists, etc. The darkness I felt never went away; it was just hidden under my busy routine.

I never saw light again until Nov 2015. I was in mom / support groups on Facebook. I found & joined a clothing company after falling in love with how I looked. I found friendship, a family and someone who was dealing with the same stuff as me. I finally had a support system. I could breathe. I felt beautiful. I started taking care of myself.

Yet, it still felt like it was just covering up the darkness. Then, I was given a gift from my teammates. They let me know that I was a strong mom. I sat there and really took in what it meant.  I sobbed for while.  I realized that this family is a puzzle. I needed to work on it just as much as every person in this family.

I decided to hold a fundraiser for Autism. I cried all week! By the end of it something happened.  I experienced healing and growth. I finally accepted autism. I accepted myself. I accepted my family. That day, I fell in love with my baby girl all over again. She is amazing. She is a genius! Her laughter makes us smile ear to ear.

And yet, despite this, the darkness was still there and would crack me when her big fits would come. My support system kept telling me to get checked out; I was ashamed, which in turn, made the darkness spike.

I finally got on medication for depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, the event that drove me to it was my dad passing from a heart attack. It felt like my father took me to to the doctor, so that I could start living my life happily.  I believe that his  message to me was that I was an amazing mother and can do anything.  So what if Hannah has autism? It doesn’t mean that she can’t do anything and everything.  Suddenly, I became a positive person again!

I spent most of my time as a mother resenting myself, my husband, my daughter and autism. Yes, It’s hard; some days are  harder than others. But, my business/sisterhood and my dad made me grow and heal in ways that  I can not explain. They lead me to focus on the inner light bulb that has been my motivation. That light bulb is Hannah. She knows her alphabet, numbers, how to write, spell and is a puzzle wizard! She sings and dances.  Anything you teach her, she picks up in 2 weeks or less. She’s amazing.

This experience has also given me strength and support. My shopping group has turned into my support group and cheerleaders. So when I have downs or ups, they pick me up or celebrate with me. They love Hannah and her milestones just as much as I do. Because of this,  I am now a voice for Special Needs Moms of Autism. I now look at life from a different perspective. I can see that difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.

So, I think the specialist had it wrong. I think she must have meant, ‘There’s something AWESOME about Hannah!

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Liz lives in Arizona with her daughters and husband. She continues live her life’s dream through her clothing boutique.  You can keep in touch with Liz and check out her boutique at www.shopwithlizard.com. 

41 thoughts on “A Mommy Story: There’s Something About Hannah

  1. Your ability to grow and learn through your journey is amazing. Being a mom is challenging to say the least. We are often asked to do things in our lives that we weren’t prepared for and never expected to encounter. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. It’s not always easy to share the pieces of us that have been most difficult. Your little girl is incredibly blessed to have you as her momma!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was sooo not easy to be this vulnerable about this! But I’m so glad I did. It’s opened up more relationships with other parents like me! Thank you so much for the sweet words and reading!

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  2. Thank you sharing your story. I work in early intervention and have gone through this process with families. I know that it is not easy, but I think your perception and attitude you take toward the situation is what will help make your child successful. Your baby is definitely awesome!

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  3. I am a Speech Therapist who works with kids with autism on daily basis. You are spot on when you say they teach you something new every single day! I have learned so much from them and have become a better therapist and a more patient and compassionate person because of them. They sure are special :). Thanks for sharing your story.

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    • Isn’t it amazing!? I’m actually listening to the therapy right now and Hannah is being super sweet and polite to her sister! Makes my heart melt!

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story. The journey can be so challenging. You always wonder if there’s something more you could have/should have been doing. But it all boils down to accepting and following the steps to get the help needed.

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  5. This is such a sweet story. I’m so sorry the journey has been so hard for you, but I appreciate your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable in such a public way. I hope it encourages other moms to follow your example and get the help they might need. And your little girl sounds awesome. ❤️

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    • I hope so too!! One of the biggest things I had to realize is that we aren’t alone. So the more I talked about it, the more I healed and found moms who were dealing with the same stuff. Journey may have been hard but now it’s better than ever! Thank you for reading love!

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  6. It’s nice to read about how you worked through this surprise diagnoses and turned it into a positive. I think autism is a fear many parents have, and we’re constantly worried our children will turn out to be “one of them.” It’s good to see the perspective from the other side, from someone who did the hard heart work and worked through it.

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    • First thing first, I love your name! That’s my youngest daughters name! Second, thank you so much! I definitely thought she was going to be “one of them” in the beginning. But the coolest thing about autism is that you will never meet the same autistic child. They all have something oh so amazing perks! So cool to watch. Thank you for reading love!

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  7. I am appalled that someone would ever say that to you!!
    Thank you for sharing your story. I too have a “Hannah”. Her name is Annie. And as I read your story it sounds almost identical to mine. I was also diagnosed with depression and anxiety and am now on meds.
    The biggest thing I learned is that it is nothing you did. That Autism is a beautiful thing. The things my daughter has taught me and her teachers is incredible.
    You are an incredible mom!! Most people have a hard time even bringing their child to the Dr. The way you have advocated for her is admirable! I wish I could hug you right now! Keep doing you. You are incredible. Hannah is a lucky girl 🙂

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    • I will admit I was in a small bubble of denial in the beginning. But thank you! It’s definitely been a journey. I will welcome your hug and give you one right back!

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  8. Thank you for sharing your story! Sometimes doctors have no bedside manners at all. My son was late to the game speaking and I had his doctor tell me he was dead! I had to wait two months for an ear doctor and guess what- he could hear perfectly!!! Those two months were torture. I don’t listen to doctors as much after that ridiculous experience.

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  9. Thank you for your transparency as I’m sure your strength has helped many. You are not alone and its great that you have a support system. I love Hannah and her milestones too!

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    • Awe thank you! Sometimes it’s hard to be this vulnerable but I get to meet so many amazing people from it! Thank you for the sweet words and for reading our story!

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  10. Thank you for sharing your story, Liz. I am like your daughter, Hannah, and am on the spectrum. I am glad that you don’t listen to that so-called professional anymore. I am sorry that she totally invalidated you and your daughter. Hannah’s autism has nothing to do with your parenting abilities. That autism is caused by bad parenting was believed years ago on the premise of false research findings, but has been debunked.I bet you’re an awesome parent! 🙂 People believed that I couldn’t make it as far as I have. But I have made it further. And I bet Hannah can too! 🙂

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    • I can not love this more! Thank you for the sweet words! I truly believe Hannah will do amazing things just like she does each day. Thank you so much for reading about my journey so far!

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  11. I’ve loved that little girl since the first time she grabbed my finger and pulled me along to show me something! I felt she chose me to be her friend! I’m glad you are getting the support and help you deserve!

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