I am a mom to 2.5 kids, and our oldest was given an educational diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder a week before his 3rd birthday. We are always working very hard on different kinds of interventions and reading as much as possible to find the best treatments and daily routine activities for our little man. Here’s our story.
We couldn’t have been happier than the day our son was born. Everything about him was perfect, even at nearly 4 weeks early. Over the next several months, we watched him grown and change and learn all kinds of new things that babies are supposed to learn. He was hitting milestones and was so happy and smiley. He seemed to be taking a while to crawl, and cruised first, but learned how to by 10 months. He was walking by 13 months and starting to say some words.
By his 15 month appointment, our doctor was asking the typical questions of what our baby could/couldn’t do, including how many words he was saying. We threw out the several he’d been saying and the doc seemed satisfied. Around the time of the 18 month appointment, some of those words from the months before were gone. Our doctor told us that our sweet little guy was starting to exhibit some of the signs of autism, and that dropping words was definitely not a good thing. We were stunned. How did everything go from being so great to this? We chose to take in all the doctor said, but still keep an open mind to our son’s potential to still speak more. It was strongly recommended to go to an audiologist to rule out any hearing issues.
I truthfully hoped that it was just a hearing problem….that we were all just not being heard rather than being tuned out. But he had never had a single ear infection that would indicate a chronic hearing or inner ear issue. We had our appointment that consisted of 3 different tests. He passed with flying colors.
We got closer to 2 years and I kept waiting for some crazy explosion of vocabulary to magically happen. I was still sure it was going to be that way. It wasn’t. By his second birthday, we had begun the process to get him into First Steps, the local government early intervention (EI) agency. He qualified for both speech and occupational therapy. By 26 months, he was receiving both weekly.
We started to see some progress with speech fairly quickly. Less frustration because he was able to start gesturing (didn’t really take to any signs) and using pictures or one word answers to request things. Both speech and OT continued for the next 10 months. The bad news is that First Steps cuts off at 3 years. They turn over your child to the public district. In our case, we really like the district we live in, and I had some experience from my teaching days with kids who received their services, so I felt like we’d be in good hands.
Our son was given a full “arena” evaluation (i.e. speech, OT, PT, Autism specialist, psychologist, and preschool teacher all there). A couple weeks later, we reconvened to hear the results, but we got something in the mail a few days before that alluded to the fact that a diagnosis was coming….
So, on April 24th, 2012, our sweet little boy was given the education diagnosis of ASD. We did receive some good news that day. He qualified for their preschool, which means every day he goes, there’s a SLP or OT in the classroom as well as the teacher and at least one aide.
It’s been nearly a year with the “official” diagnosis and I think we (I) finally have a handle on it all. Research and education is the autism parent’s biggest ally! So, in the meantime, this is a place to lay out all the craziness that is our life!