img_0121Moments like this make it all worthwhile.

This morning at breakfast, my 11-year-old, Alina, said, “Mom, I had a bad dream. I dreamt that I failed my Taekwondo test on Wednesday. I felt terrible.” I replied, “Oh, that sounds so upsetting, sweetheart. Why don’t you talk to Master Portante about it and ask him how he thinks you’re doing? That might be reassuring.” “Thanks, Mom,” Alina replied, smiling.

A few moments later, as Alina was clearing her dishes, my 13-year-old, Ben, who recovered from autism through a number of holistic interventions, followed Alina into the kitchen, and said, “Alina, can I tell you something?” “Sure, Ben,” she replied. “When I was worrying about failing at my writing,” Ben said, “I told myself that writing wasn’t the only thing that made me who I was, and it helped. So don’t forget all the other things you’re good at. You’re a great actress, you have lots of friends, and Mom and Dad and I will always love you.” “Thanks, Ben!” Alina said, grinning. They hugged each other, and Alina kissed Ben’s cheek.

These wonderful moments—between the episodes of sibling warfare in which my middle-schoolers are constantly engaged these days—are hard-earned. We spent years with Ben locked in isolation and a total lack of interest in others as a result of his autism. But we chose to work with him, to believe he could get better. Through healing dietary approaches, The Son-Rise Program®, and many other holistic interventions, Ben transformed into a compassionate, insightful, expressive, and connected young man. Alina, for her part, lived through many years of family turmoil as a result of our struggles with autism. Yet she too has emerged into a happy, connected, and loving little girl—albeit with her own unique set of psychological and emotional complexities.

To be sure, we have many more roads ahead of us! We are not out of the woods. (Are any parents, ever?) But I am counting my blessings this morning,