Notes on Nolan | True Blue | Written by Amy Mikla
I don’t really believe in coincidences.
When my husband, Ben, and I were first dating, he was just finishing up his undergrad degree in Wisconsin, and had plans to move to Texas for graduate school. We are the same age; only separated by 8 days. I maybe hadn’t been so diligent with my courses and knocking them out quite as quickly as him, so I would be finishing up with my degree as he made plans to leave for 2 years.
When your relationship is just budding and your status is about to become ‘long distance,’ you have very real thoughts about whether you should just throw in the towel at that moment, and save yourself some heartache down the line.
The truth is, I already loved him.
“You never have to worry about Ben,” his mom quietly said to me at his going away party. “He’s the most true blue person you’ll ever meet.”
Marrying Ben was probably the BEST decision that I’ve ever made. He is caring and loving, he is smart, he is supportive, he takes care of me. He takes care of us.
After we got married, we had our wedding bands engraved with the words his mother once used to describe her son - “TRUE BLUE.”
Little did we know that this phrase would become to mean so much more for us.
At the end of June 2008, we welcomed our daughter, Haven.
Haven is our girl who loves all things sparkly and frilly, and her laugh is probably my most favorite that I’ve ever heard. She has more potential for dancing, and drawing, and sports, and creativity than she even knows; however, she is tentative and sometimes so nervous it makes her feel sick to her stomach. Above all, she is kind with a soft heart, and has a real consciousness about following the rules.
Two short years later in August of 2010, Tyce came bounding into our lives.
This boy doesn’t slow down for much. He is passionate about all sports, and has a deep raspy voice that I love, but throws people off a little bit when they first hear it. Like, where is this old man’s voice coming from?... “Is he sick?,” I’ve been asked. Tyce is a peanut, would live on hotdogs and cheese puffs if we’d let him, and is a social butterfly, leader, and friend to all.
Rounding out our family is sweet, sweet Nolan. Noli, as we also call him, entered our lives very quickly on a Tuesday morning in July 2012. Like my other two children, there is a lot I can share. When I first sat down to write this post nearly 3 years ago, I had a second screen open on my computer work station, where I was able to listen and hear as Nolan received one-on-one therapy as part of his 40+ hour intensive program, developed to help him gain social, communication and cognitive skills.
Nolan has autism.
I do believe in fate.
It has always been our fate or future that Nolan would be a part of our lives.
We are learning from autism.
I’m learning that my voice needs to be just the right amount of inquisitive and pushy and nice to get him the support he needs.
That gut feeling. Ask the questions, tick off the boxes. Always, always do what’s right for your family.
I am brimming with pride when I see what Nolan can do on any given day, and the breakthroughs that show themselves in the most beautiful, yet unexpected and fleeting moments.
Living with someone whose mind sorts things out differently and in longer spans of time than your own can be frustrating while you wait.
Noli, I will always wait for you.
Nolan and his autism have taught us what true love is.
But Nolan is so much more than autism. While we are all learning how to live with it as part of his makeup, it does not define him.
Noli loves swimming. Though he has a standing private weekly swimming lesson, he will often ask on other days in his tiny, almost non-existent voice to go swimming. In the water, he is all smiles and only comes up for quick breaths of air before fully submerging himself again and letting the water wash over him.
He also plays with action heroes. The big 12-inch guys are his favorite. He loves to pose them and line them up so that they look like a team of heroes ready for action.
Books line his shelves in his room, and it is not uncommon for him to revert to his room in search of a favorite book to page through.
Nolan is active. Aside from swimming, running is his forte, and jumping on trampolines or swinging are tied for next in line.
Nolan loves his brother and sister, and me, but his favorite person on this planet is his dad, and I can’t argue with that.
Prior to Nolan’s diagnosis, we read a lot about the subject. A LOT. I scoured the internet at all hours to find similarities in other kids, read blogs so that I didn’t feel alone, and found excellent organizations out there as a source of support.
In my early findings, I learned that the official color for autism awareness is blue. And on one of the sites, amongst the other sayings of “Light It Up Blue” and “Shine a Light on Autism,” the phrase that I also saw on their apparel was this: “True Blue.”
Coincidence? I choose to think not.
Autism, perhaps, has always been on our life path, and this step along our journey is only just being revealed to us.
So please, take our hands, Autism.
We’ve got a long and winding road ahead.
Photo by Tara Draper Photography