When we first started recovering Martin, I envisioned an end date. I’ve written on the topic, that is, “How will I know when we’re done?” Four years ago I thought we might be “there” by kindergarten or first grade; the mother who got me started on this journey pretty much recovered her son by age six. That seemed doable. (Martin is six now, in first grade, and far along but nowhere near typical.)

This year, in conversation with parents whose kids are, for all intents and purposes, recovered or very nearly indistinguishable from typically developing peers, my understanding of this path has changed. I don’t think there will be an end date.

This is not to say that I don’t think Martin will recover. I do. This year Martin’s language and social skills have come so far—almost daily, neurotypicality feels achievable.

I foresee a time when Martin will leave self-contained special education for a mainstream classroom. I foresee a time when physical therapy and occupational therapy and speech therapy will no longer be offered to him. I foresee a time when he will make friends without a parent-engineered play group. Little by little, these needs that Martin has will fall away.

Yet there will be more to do. Martin has lost a significant portion of childhood to autism, and he will always need to catch up in some regard. Moreover, the damage to Martin’s immune system is likely to affect his health even after the biggest strikes are resolved. What I do for Martin may naturally shift behind the scenes as he ages and heals. That doesn’t mean I won’t stop working.

As of today, I see recovering Martin as a permanent part of my parenting journey. It’s like dividing a number half by half by half. You never reach zero, but you get infinitesimally close. Even when Martin is 0.0000000001% away from typical (and therefore more “typical” than most any kid?), I’ll still be lurking around, trying to keep him healthy, giving him what he needs to become the man he was born to be.

Every parent’s adventure is different, and I guess this is mine.