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By Denise Lane D’Ecclessis
Fourteen years ago, the only thing I knew about Autism was based on the movie Rainman. I was 27 years old with a 5 year old and my life was pretty perfect in my eyes, as I was about to have my second son, Vincent. My family felt so complete and I never saw the bomb that was about to be dropped. As my family noticed changes, we immediately had him checked, and pretty much overnight I had a diagnosis of Autism. I was hurt, angry, confused, scared, and mostly defeated. But that would not last long, and we would pull ourselves together.
I discovered that, as hard as this journey would be, it would lead me to the most fulfilled, blessed life I could ask for. The one major thing that changed in my life was an opportunity to help other families. I threw myself into the world of autism beyond my own son’s needs. I decided to take everything I learned and support other children and their families during the beginning stages of autism. Vincent was my best teacher, and the time that I spent with my beautiful son only made me stronger and more educated to pay it forward.
The keys to those early years, are learning who your child is, what interests them, helping them through their struggles, and then you dive right into their world and join them. I knew I could help other families see that for every 10 hardships, there would always be one special moment they could focus on. This could be a lesson in life, a hidden gem to figuring out why they are on this path.
Fast forward 10 years later and the Facebook page, “Love for Autism,” was a no brainer for me. I needed to be able to take what I could physically offer others and emotionally support them to make a difference. Love for Autism is what we have stood for all these years.
Vincent’s development was conquered due to so many wonderful people in his life, but every step came from a place of unconditional love and patience. Being able to share that with thousands of other families and get their positive feedback is exactly how I continue to pay it forward in this life.
I was given a special boy to share with the world, to change people’s minds, and most importantly open my heart to something I never knew I had the strength to do. My favorite part of the day is taking what I experience with Vincent and letting other families know how capable their loved ones are. If someone would have told me that very day I got the diagnosis that autism would have affected me this way, I would have laughed in their face.
I took a very serious situation, and turned it into the most amazing time of my life. I never gave up on believing that he was capable of so much more.
**Denise Lane D’Ecclessis is the creator of Love for Autism on Facebook. She has been married for over 20 years to her husband Anthony and they have two beautiful sons, Angelo 20 and Vincent 14 (who is diagnosed with autism) She is passionate about advocating and focusing on all the positive lessons that have come out of her journey. She also has worked for early intervention, teaching children with disabilities for over 10 years. She currently resides in New Jersey.
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With a network of affiliates across the United States, the Autism Society is the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization. Their mission is to increase public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the spectrum, advocate for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and provide the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy. Contact and join a local affiliate and get involved! To find the affiliate nearest to you, click on your state below.