Autism (2)
Author :: Melissa Ballard 

I tried to get pregnant for 3 years with many miscarriages, hormones, and all kinds of medical procedures hoping that it would fix me. Finally, after three years of heartache and trying everything you can imagine, I was pregnant and there was a heartbeat!!! I was so excited that it was finally happening. BUT, it was very hard to enjoy the pregnancy for fear that I would miscarry at any time.

However, after 9 months Rowdy Cash came into my life. He was a healthy C-section 8 lb. baby boy. I was so happy and never put him down!

I felt so lucky to have my miracle child that I spoiled him the entire first year of his life. 

I knew though in my heart that something was not quite right. He threw up almost every day for the first 2 years of his life – he gagged on everything. He was very hard to soothe to sleep. I would have to hold him very tight and bounce him around to calm him. I blamed his issues on how much I had spoiled him and how I never put him down.

I had to go back to work so my mom babysat him until he was 3 years old. I started to notice that anytime we would be around other children Rowdy had horrible social skills. He had very little patience with any child. He would start to push other children away, or see a child come near him and start to fuss or get angry. Again, I blamed his behaviors on him not being in daycare or around other children. He had two older step-brothers that lived with us and was fine around them.

When he was 2, I started to notice that he could not communicate very well with us. He used made up words for familiar items. He would point or make sounds to get what he needed. At his 2 year well check I told the doctor that I didn’t think he knew more than 50 words. The Dr. said he should know around 200.

Then became pregnant again with his sister. Rowdy never noticed I was pregnant. I would talk to him about it and he never showed any interest in a new baby. When we brought his sister home from the hospital he did not care at all. He never would love on her or even notice she was in the house.

Finally, the thing that made me realize he needed help, was the day my dog died. We had all rushed to the vet with our sick dog — who had been with me for 16 years. While the vet was working on my dog all of us were in the front lobby. The vet called me and the kids back to spend our last minutes with our dog before she put her down. As I was walking back, another family came in with a small boy. Rowdy was playing with toys in the waiting area and the other boy was going toward Rowdy to get the toys. I was balling my eyes out over my beloved pet about to die and I stopped in my tracks to run over and make sure that Rowdy did not hurt this other child coming to play.

I thought right then and there that I was so emotional over this death but I couldn’t even mourn and be with my dog because I KNEW my son might hurt this other child for no reason at all!

As he started Mothers Day out and daycare at school, I hoped he would get better and get used to being around other children.  NOPE, didn’t work. He had a very hard time. After a few months in our school daycare, the teacher said she was concerned and wanted our Speech pathologist to observe him and work with him. I had hoped that she would find nothing, but again I knew she would. After talking to her about Rowdy and his history we both agreed that it might be Autism.

I prayed that it would get better for Rowdy but as he got older and into kindergarten it got harder for him to deal with the rules and so many other children around him. Rowdy was cussing out the teacher, hurting other children, having major meltdowns, throwing things. He was saying the meanest things he could say to children who bothered him, threatening to kill them. I was so embarrassed because I was a teacher at this same school. How could parents trust me with their children if I couldn’t even control my own son?

Team sports were a nightmare for us. I tried to get him into soccer thinking it would be good for him socially. He threatened to burn the field down and tried to hit kids for kicking the ball. Again, I felt the stares of other parents judging me and my child. Some parents were very kind and tried to help him and would say nice things to me. Others not so nice and yelling at him or giving me the look of “HOW DARE YOU let your child act this way.”

Finally by the middle of Rowdy’s kindergarten year he diagnosed by the school and by a private Psychologist with Autism, Sensory Processing and ADHD. I was relieved because now I had an explanation for his behaviors and wanted to start working on any way to help that I could.

Living with autism is very hard on Rowdy, Me (his parents), and his siblings. Most of the time his brothers and sister don’t understand why he acts the way he does. They get very angry with him and think he is a bad child. When in public and a meltdown occurs all eyes on are me. I get angry and it takes everything I have not to yell at other people and tell them My child has autism, please don’t judge.”

I have had people come up and ask me if he was retarded or tell me if I spanked him he would not act that way.
For real!? Not true, spanking does not work for him, punishment does not work well either. (grounding him, taking away electronics, send to time out)  When a meltdown happens, nothing can stop it but the time he needs. We just try to calm him with a tight hug or his weighted blanket.

Rowdy is now in 3rd grade. He is doing much better at school with many sensory breaks during the day. He has an aide with him most of the school day. He goes to ABA therapy once a week and gets social skills group at school. He is involved in the Miracle League baseball team and has started to go to Special Olympics. Life with Rowdy is getting easier. Each day is a new day. Some days he will meltdown over something so simple like his taco shell being broken and other days will we may not see one big meltdown at all.

We are learning something new every day together and I feel very lucky that God chose me to his mommy. I learn so much from my son every day. I only hope others can learn from him too.



  1. We all learn a little more each day. I can attest that Rowdy teaches Victor something every time they are around each other. Thanks for sharing your story, it resonates deeply.

  2. Melissa… There is no doubt why God sent you Rowdy…. You are one of the most patient and kindest people I’ve been blessed to cross paths with. I appreciate you sharing your journey. May we all read this and live to be kinder and less judgemental when we see things happening- we may not always see the whole story

  3. Rowdy is the best! I love to see him smile when he see his favorite cousin!! He has grown so much in such a little time and it shows. He has blessed us all!!

  4. Oh my goodness. Our walks been very similar. My child is still 6 and was diagnosed at 5. Did anything help his reflux? My child has the same violent explosions and angry verbal issues when he is overstimulated. I wish I could help him more at school but we don’t even have an IEP at this point. His second half of the year was much better and he spent a lot less time in the principal’s office but using positive reinforcement in the classroom, giving him a cool down spot, and having the teacher giving him a hug everyday.


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