You know I got alot of weird looks and some pretty harsh comments when I became pregnant with Maria just as Panayioti was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I even got a comment from a parent of a child on the spectrum not too long ago. Aren’t you worried that the second child will have autism too? Aren’t you worried of how Panayioti will react? Aren’t you worried this, aren’t you worried that! Ugh, it was all too much. Almost a year and a half later I thank God that I had her. There are days, quite a few I admit, where I don’t feel up to being a mom of an autistic child. I don’t feel strong enough, or good enough, and she literally keeps me afloat. Afloat. As in keeps me from drowning because the sirens and the noises and all the other ‘quirks’ that a boy on the spectrum has . . . well, that’s enough to kill you sometimes. She is the glue that keeps this family together most days. I feel sad sometimes that I may be putting too much pressure on her to become more independent and basically grow up a bit faster than the normal pace maybe but then I see her and how she’s totally ok with everything and I’m ok too. She eats by herself, chooses what she’s going to wear, and pretty much chooses everything that has to do with her. She’s very strongwilled, almost too strongwilled. But what I love most about her is her ordinariness. She is your typical toddler, calling out to me or her dad or her brother even when she wants something, pointing to things, showing affection, being timid at times around strangers. Saying ‘yes’ when asked if she wants something and meaning it. And then of course shaking her head no when she definitely doesnt’ want something. She knows something’s up with her brother but she loves him anyway and doesn’t get annoyed or upset when he gets into his zone sometimes. In fact, she may just be the reason he has improved so much lately. We were at the park the other day and he saw a little girl just like Maria and he approached her and hugged her. Who? Panayioti!! She’s always on him when he’s at home, hugging him, kissing him, sometimes hitting him (but playfully) and all this she does because she wants to play with him. Pretend-play, play with blocks, puzzles, draw, anything. You name it! As soon as I say ‘come kids to the table and let’s play’ she’ll grab him by his arm and basically force him to sit down with her. She’s my co-therapist. The best sister a boy on the spectrum could ever have.