One Family’s Autism Journey


Autism is a short word with the biggest meaning in the world. Maya is my world. She is my 7-year-old daughter who is ASD spectrum level 1.

As a mother, you never think a diagnosis like this could happen in your family. But Maya is the 4th case of Autism in my maternal family. So I’m somewhat familiar with this disorder.

When they told us that Maya has autism, the first thing that I thought was what my daughter is going to do in the world without her parents when we cannot be with her. What if we cannot help her with whatever she needs?

one family's autism journeyEarly Signs of Autism

We noticed that when Maya was almost 2 years old she didn’t babble. She didn’t look you directly in the eye. Loud sounds bothered her a lot. And she didn’t follow certain directions or obey certain orders. The pediatrician was not very helpful because he only ordered a hearing test, a test that she passed. My husband sought help in the Socorro District to which we belong so Maya could start with speech therapy. By this time Maya was already 3 years old. So they evaluated her and if she qualified for therapy. Since then, the school has helped us in every way. You can learn more here.

A Day in the Life with My Child Who Has Autism

I wake up Maya at 6:00 am for school, but she gets up 15 minutes later. She takes her time with everything. I’m preparing her lunch when she calls me for help. She needs assistance to tie her shoes and button her shirt. While I’m brushing her hair, I ask her what she dreamed of last night. And she tells me the most beautiful stories about unicorns.

As we drive to school, we sing and laugh. Since she was little, I always sang and danced in front of her. I try to make her always see how wonderful life is, and the best way to celebrate it is by dancing and singing, which she loves.

“Maya, how was school?” Always I get the same answer, “Good, I did good.” At this point, school is the least of my worries about her because she is the most intelligent and smart girl in her class. And believe me or not the most popular in school. My husband says that she has my personality. Ha! We have the greatest support in her school, starting with her speech therapist, who has been her therapist since Maya was 3 years old. She was also her 1st-grade teacher and is her therapist for Autism.

I have always been an athletic woman. And as a mother I want Maya to follow my example regardless of her diagnosis. I have always taught her that she has to play a sport. It is good for her mind, body, and spirit. She played soccer, she was in gymnastics, and actually, she is playing softball with El Paso Lady Force 8U.


Hope for the Future

At one point in my life, I was afraid of having another child, of not knowing how to manage my life with someone other than Maya. But I don’t regret giving my daughter a little brother. I think it was the best gift my husband and I could have given her. Maya loves Nico. She is the most loving sister. She will have an unconditional friend in her brother who will support and love her all her life.

There have been very frustrating days. My daughter sometimes does not understand what is happening around her sometimes. She does not understand why she feels tired or nervous for example. In fact, one important thing we are working on is helping Maya recognize her emotions and feelings.
The path sometimes seems difficult, but day by day, both at home and at school, she has the help she needs. And as long as we are all there helping her, teaching her, and, above all, understanding her, her future looks bright.
I do not lose hope of seeing my daughter one day go on vacations with her friends, graduate from college, and fulfill her dreams. In my case, I know I’m going to have to work harder and the road is going to be more difficult than it might be with a neurotypical child. But I am not going to give up and I will always be there with her and for her.

Meet Our Guest Writer, Marlene Anaya

Marlene Anaya moved to the USA from Juarez, Mexico 23 years ago. She’s the eldest of 3 sisters. Since she was a girl, she’s loved sports and still runs and does CrossFit. She adores her kids and loves spending time with them. She and her husband like to watch sports on tv or go somewhere to have some drinks while watching a good baseball or soccer game. She loves being surrounded by people, talking and exchanging ideas on some subject, and dancing. She and her husband have been married for 8 years. He is a deputy, and she’s a lab technician. They have 2 kids. Maya is 7 years old and is in 1st grade. Nicholas is 16 months and he goes to home daycare.


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