After we came back to our apartment, my husband sat at the dining table and started crying loudly. I joined him. I don’t remember how long we cried, but after at least 30 minutes of crying, he squeezed, really worked hard to squeeze out these words:
“We must get along.”
He repeated I don’t know how many times, he repeated, “yes we must get along well, otherwise everything will collapse”.
All I could say was “yes, we must.”
We hugged each other in pain. And he said, “we must go somewhere. I can’t stay here. Go somewhere else for a few days.”
So we wrote a quick email to our boss (who was my Ph.D. Mentor), saying, “K was diagnosed with autism. We need some time off to reorganize ourselves. I’m sorry.” The boss quickly responded, “take as much time as you need.” Beforehand, we spoke to him about K’s possible autism and early intervention because either my husband or I will be taking time off for these therapies. He was very understanding and, kindly told me that his son was a really late talker as well and we shouldn’t worry.
We left message to K’s social worker at ALTA regional center, packed up our stuff and left the apartment. At this point, we had no idea where to go. We just left.
First stop we ended up was Bolinas lagoon in the north of San Francisco. We often hiked with K on my husband’s back. It was already early evening, and very quiet. Just we heard the sound of waves for maybe about an hour.
After leaving, we headed south along CA-1. CA-1 runs along the Pacific Ocean shore of Bay Area. When it got dark, we decided to stay in Santa Cruz and reserved a hotel. It was pre-smartphone era. We always carried AAA tour book and map then whenever we felt right, we found and called the hotel to book and checked in a few minutes or few hours later. Cell phone made it a bit easier, though.
At least it was not our room. That appeared a good relief for us. We somehow managed to smile and drink. Then slept hard.
We spent the next few days in Santa Cruz and Monterey area. One time at the board walk restaurant, we had a breakfast. The waitress was young, but looked so much like K’s SLP. K clearly thought so, and he reached out to the waitress. The waitress was impressed, “I’ve never seen a boy this cute!” I know, K is really cute and super handsome (it’s true!). But in my mind, I was saying to her, “but this boy is autistic, you know.”
We had some superficial fun at Monterey bay aquarium and headed home. We stopped by a Japanese bookstore in San Jose and bought several books about autism. I was surprised to see the big collection. I didn’t know about the high occurrence of autism in Silicon Valley. Totally ignorant parent.
We started reading. We need to understand and decide what to do. Getting diagnosis itself turned out to be a year-and-harf journey, but it was just a beginning. My journey with K won’t end until my death.