• Gloribel Concepcion

A Pedacito of Life With Autism

Updated: Jan 8

On December 31, 2001, I gave birth to a healthy little boy whom I named Francisco. I never thought my whole life would change as time went by. He was born with a small breathing problem called Laryngeal Trachea Malasia (floppy airways) and had to stay in the hospital for an extra week.


We were told that he will grow out of this condition so life went on with my handsome chubby boy. During his development, I noticed and felt he was behind on certain motor skills. I was told some children take longer than others, but I wasn’t satisfied with that answer, and so our journey began.

We looked for answers with different doctors and no one could tell me what was wrong with my child. It was extremely frustrating... A friend mentioned autism to me and I refused to believe that my son had that, but he didn't start walking until he was 2.5 years old and still wasn’t speaking.


He would sit in the same spots for hours and would be entertained by the smallest things; he didn’t play with his older brother. Finally, I had an idea: if I apply for social security benefits they will send him to their specialists.


Once approved, we visited a doctor who confirmed that my son had Autism. From that moment forward, I began to inform myself and do as much research as possible.

Gloribel with her autistic son Francisco
Gloribel with her autistic son Francisco

We've spent many years struggling to teach my son even the simplest things. Things that we take for granted, like going potty, self-care, eating, chewing, and awareness of the dangers around us. Many times I sat my son on my lap and cried with him when I felt like he was upset but didn’t know why because he couldn’t tell me.


Along the way, I have met many individuals who have been very loving and helpful, but we didn't make lots of progress. My oldest son grew and matured faster than others because he had to help us many times. Frustration would take over me at times, depression also along the way, but I had to fight my own demons to care for my kids.


Many times I depended on others to get a break and then felt guilty for demanding so much from the kids to help. When we lived in Louisiana there was very little help. It was unbelievable but I had to make it work. My husband had a hard time accepting his son’s disability; it was his little boy. What would his future and life look like? We didn’t know.

Gloribel's husband teaching their autistic son Francisco how to play billiards
Gloribel's husband teaching their autistic son Francisco how to play billiards

It’s been a long journey. Francisco is now 18 years old and is still very much dependent on us, but we’ve accepted that. We had two more children after him and taught them how to help and care for their big brother.

As a parent of a special needs child, your biggest fear is what will happen once you’re no longer there. Who will change him? Who will bathe him? Who will make sure he eats without choking? And worst of all, who will help him when he has seizures?

One thing is for sure, we’ve learned to appreciate the little things in life! How to be humble. He fights every day to let us know that he’s trying. He’s a happy young man. He loves hugs and kisses because we always make sure he gets those. We face looks from others who don’t understand and sometimes try to give us advice on something they have no idea what it's like.

But we stay focused on that as he gets older he will do more and be better than yesterday! He’s a strong healthy boy who has taught Mami and Papi how to be strong as well.

 

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