We started an unwanted, unsolicited journey about 11 years ago when we were wondering why…so many things were different. At that time, his behavior was unpredictable and out of control. His sensory issues were extreme, and his anxiety triggered frequent and massive meltdowns. He hardly slept through the night and his school days were just too much to handle. About seven years ago he received a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. I did not know what to do, where to turn and what to expect. Autism was not something I was familiar with. His life, our life, has been a rollercoaster ….it has been very emotional, full of frustrations and disappointments and at the same we have experienced gains and happiness. On top of our autism diagnosis we faced some health issues; luckily, we were able to find answers and a solution; he had heart surgery when he was 8 years old and let me tell you…that was fun! Keeping a child in bed, lying flat without moving was challenging…we know that kids on the spectrum are super strong … he was something similar to “hulk” when anxious and upset. Once that obstacle was over we continued our autism journey. Therapies were everywhere…our schedule was busy. Our family dynamic changed, whatever we did was based on his needs. School was difficult for us; he is extremely smart but the lack of social skills and everything else that comes with autism made it difficult. We were fortunate to have some teachers and school admins who really tried to understand him and bonded with him. I pushed a lot…sometimes too much. Autism was not an excuse for his behaviors and it was not going to determine his future. Andres is the second of four children, he is 15 years old. He graduated from an amazing school last year (maybe the harder year for him; those hormones are not a joke!). The help he received from his peers, teachers and other support personnel helped him to go through it. He is not the same person he was many years ago, not the same person he was last year at the beginning of the school year, he has grown so much…he has friends, he has a best friend, he goes to parties and I love to have my house full of sweaty 15 yr. olds eating and smiling! …We will continue to grow… because I am his mother and I believe in him. Today, he is a freshman at Melbourne Central Catholic and he is loving it. He is part of the MCC JV football team. The transition to High School was a little challenging. Thanks to the Spring Forward for Autism grant we are able to receive ABA therapy and to have his BCBA attend school meetings and help us with some of the issues we have encountered. Our insurance does not cover that type of therapy, sadly, we are not alone; many families experience the same. Do we have everything figure out? Not at all. This journey has to be lived one day at the time. Having a “village” is important…support from others is important…every little bit helps.