Name: Jenny Dombroski
Hometown: Austin, Texas ( Hook ‘em Horns baby!)
Mom to: Amelia ( age 9; sassy and fierce magnolia) and Sam ( age 7; sugar sweet and everything I want to be when I grow up)
Lover of: Jesus, walks, my family, writing, day dreaming and baking.
Let’s get down to it! I’ve been with my college sweetheart for about 14 years now. He’s quite possibly my favorite human. He’s funny, direct and as unromantic as I could have hoped him to be . Just say no to the gushy for me.
So, naturally, having a family with him was on my to-do list. He’s loyal and protective. And, I knew that we would try and make our family the best it could be- together every step of the way.
Amelia came along and we adored her. Her father doted on her. I dreamed for her. We soon after were blessed again with a positive pregnancy test. This time, we were having a boy!
Now, let me just tell you, we were over the moon. I had wanted a boy since I could remember. And, my husband played sports in college so you have to know that his brain started churning with all sorts of plans for athletics. We gave him my Dad’s name right in the middle.
Around 2 years old, I noticed that he wasn’t talking very much. I truly chalked it up to him having an overly talkative sister. So, I backed off inferring his next need and told Amelia the same. Still, we watched as he slowly moved backwards. He went from being an adventurous eater to only eating 3 things. He wasn’t trying to walk any longer and was slowly crawling everywhere. He was screaming and having tantrums all the time.
The sweet and willing boy I saw developing backed away into the distance.
I was watching him disappear and ,like pushing sand up a hill, I couldn’t hang on to him despite my best efforts. Finally, we went to have him evaluated and got our autism diagnosis.
The days, the months that followed are a blur now. I know my heart shattered. I know my husband boxed up those dreams of a star athlete and put it on a shelf and I know that my daughter had to age quicker than she should have.
We enrolled in therapies and endured an onslaught of unsolicited advice and judgment.
My life consisted of driving over 75,000 miles in 3 years to different therapies as we tried to give our son a best chance at a life. Parent trainings, interventions, doctor’s appointments and a pretty healthy case of anxiety for me helped those years fly by.
We are now 5 years post diagnosis and still in therapies. I’m burned out and I know he doesn’t give a good damn about hanging with large groups of friends or playing sports. Except now he can say it- with vigor!!! All the vigor!
Being around a child on the spectrum for the last 7 years has blessed me in ways I would’ve never thought though. The way he sees a shadow and is drawn to where it came from, the way a puzzle forms in his mind right before he completes it within minutes or the way he plays with his cars in such extreme detail that it takes him a solid 15 minutes to “set the stage” before he can commence playing.
He has a few friends. And, to them, I am forever grateful. But, most of all, he loves more than anyone I’ve ever met. He’s been bullied. It’s infuriating that this still exists but he always calls me off. I get ready to defend him and he just walks away. Not sad. He just has a better grasp than I do of the reality that God has big plans for him and that includes friends that will love him unconditionally. So, he walks on and I follow.
Having a child on the spectrum may seem like a step into your “greatest fear” zone but I’ll tell you, my comfort zone shouldn’t impact his heart or perception of himself. So, we live and love in the forward.
If you’re just starting this journey, know that it’ll be ok. Maybe not that day or the next one but your child will show you who they are and what they are capable of. And, that is the gift. They will come to you when they’re ready to show you a whole different world that exists without you ever have been aware of it before.
And, it is breathtaking. It’s not all sunshine and roses on your journey but once you get there, you just set down that baggage and the weight you’ve carried and look around, you’ll be surprised at what they have created while you were lost in the land of “ what if’s”.
And, you’ll know that they are just where they need to be. With you. To show you that your expectations were really just limitations with a pretty bow.
So, grab some lemonade and a chair, babe. The learning is good over here.
You can follow Sam’s adventures at