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How a Post-it Note Changed Everything

Posted In : Featured

By: Tenille Avery

Tenille Avery is a mother to three amazing kids that cover the entire spectrum: mild, moderate and severe. Sometimes crazy, mostly fun. Wife, mom dog mom, hamster grandma. Sometimes I build stuff.

My life with autism began with a post-it note.

My boys were 15 months apart and I had 3 children under 4 years old. As a new mom, I didn’t realize that my kids were developmentally delayed (How was I supposed to know?).

My father showed up at my house with a post-it note confirming my evaluation appointment with Mesa Public Schools Special Ed Department. I felt angry and immediately screamed at him that there was nothing wrong with my child. He agreed with me. There is nothing wrong with him, but he needs special ed services.

Autism Diagnosis

He passed (or failed?) that evaluation. At a follow up appointment I asked the screeners if I should seek an autism diagnosis. After an uncomfortable pause and a shared look, the ladies informed me that they assumed I already had one.

Apparently everyone but myself and my husband knew that my oldest was autistic.

Six months after Bryon’s diagnosis, Timothy was evaluated for special education. He also received an autism diagnosis.

Autism Diagnosis

When my daughter was in the 1st grade, I received another dreaded phone call from her teacher. She stressed that her issue was likely ADHD. The doctor informed me that you would not see the ADHD if not for the autism.

Three for three. Batting 1000. Whatever you want to call it.

I am a mom of three children with autism without a single overlapping symptom between them.

Upon receiving each diagnosis I went into a period of mourning. Yes, I still had my children and yes they were mostly healthy, but you weep for the future you had planned for them. All the plans you made and the hopes and dreams that you shared when they were growing inside you or newly placed in your arms are gone. And you cannot get them back.

Your life isn’t bad but it’s different. My oldest doesn’t chew. At the age of 15 he still eats macaroni and cheese and stage 3 baby food (that gerber is slowly phasing out!) He has the speech of a 6 year old and primarily uses phrases memorized from favorite tv shows.

My middle child was insanely violent for many years. We were genuinely concerned that we would need to institutionalize him and it was actually recommended by a few teachers.

We were grateful to find a private school for autistic children that has helped turn their lives around.

We celebrate the small steps and I try hard to not compare them to other children their age. That will never be us. I’m learning to be ok with that.

I’ve probably never done anything in my life to deserve the sweetest kids ever, but I am so glad they are mine. 

Autism Diagnosis

4 Responses to “How a Post-it Note Changed Everything”

  1. Caroline Bingham on 18 Apr 2019 at 12:10 pm

    Love you and your kids!

  2. Steve miller on 18 Apr 2019 at 1:38 pm

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  3. Mamie on 18 Apr 2019 at 1:57 pm

    You inspire me everyday, Tenille. I’m lucky to know you. You are a fierce and loving momma. I love your family ♥️

  4. Laura Newcomb on 18 Apr 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Tenille is an inspiration to so many parents. I always see her laughing and having fun with her kids. Best mom ever:)