On my 25th birthday, April 1st, I gave birth to my angel- Tatiana. Tatiana is my youngest of three children, and she is special in so many different ways. What is most striking of Tatiana is how beautiful, unique and strong despite all the challenges she faces having autism.
When Tatiana was an infant I quickly noticed that her milestones were delayed: she had difficulty sucking on a bottle, muscle tone was very low and was small for her age. Although I shared my concerns with doctors, they felt I was being too overbearing and was comparing her to my other two children. When Tatiana was almost eight months old she became very ill and almost lost her to either respiratory or heart failure. Tatiana was diagnosed with having SVT (Supraventricular tachycardia). While an infant has a heartbeat of about 100 beats per minute, her heartbeat was 350. She spent nearly two weeks in ICU till they were able to stabilize her. What was most remarkable was while Tatiana struggled to breath she kept smiling. Her smile reminded me of how lucky I was to have her in my life and how strong she was.
Tatiana battled SVT along with developmental delays and was one of the first infants at nine months old to receive early intervention back in 1996. By the age of 9 months old she was able to roll over, at 12 months she sat on her own, at 20 months old she walked, at 4 years old she was toilet trained, and with each milestone we were overjoyed, but then faced roadblocks came along with choosing a school and advocating for her educational needs. She started in a District 75 NYC Public School and while the beginning went well I noticed that around the age of 9 Tatiana started regressing. No longer were there three word sentences, counting numbers, or recognizing letters. Her smiling was replaced with pulling other peoples hair, biting, snatching items, and even pulling away from hugs. By the age of 15 I changed schools and placed her in a private school. Once again she flourished, however, as she got older I got older and was not able to provide her with all the needed support. I made a difficult decision and when she was almost 19 placed in her in a residential program, Springbrook in Oneonta, NY.
It has been a year and half that Tatiana has been in Springbrook and it has changed my life, our family and most importantly Tatiana. Although she is four hours away from home, every two weeks we either bring Tatiana home or we spend weekends in Oneonta exploring different hiking trails, lakes, but most importantly we spend quality time with each other. Tatiana loves to walk and stay active, therefore, being in Springbrook gives her an opportunity for her to go horseback riding, hiking and swimming. She has become a more independent young lady, but most of all she is happy.
On her 18th birthday I wrote a letter to Tatiana even though she was not able to read it, and I want to end my short story about Tatiana by sharing this:
Although your lack words make it difficult for many to understand you, I am your voice. When you’re in pain I comfort you, when you smile I smile with you, when you are angry I calm and soothe you, when you are confused I find the answers for you. Having you in my life has changed the person I am. It’s because of you I am not afraid to take risks, it’s because of you I enjoy life and what is has to offer…you’ve made me a stronger person. I can promise you till my last breath I will be the best mom possible, I will be your voice, I will be your advocate and I will always love you unconditionally. God sent me an angel and I am very lucky to have you. I love you Tatiana!