Monday, January 12, 2015

Unexpected Journey

I have been wanting to write about this unexpected journey we are going through for a while now but until today I didn't know quite how to. I am the proud mama to three beautiful children.  My 21 year old step-daughter Amanda, 7 year old daughter LeAnne and 20 month old son Christian.  I met Amanda when she was 6 and love her as my own for sure.  LeAnne has always been our very busy, vocal, free spirited, strong willed and oh so fast to pick up on things. I've never been a mama to a boy and the differences between girls and boys are huge.  Our son is busy just like our daughter was but he is much more rough, into everything, a bull in a glass store comes to mind, and he a lot less vocal.  I mean he makes noise but its very different than it was with LeAnne.  We've been a little concerned since he was about a year old but brushed it off by thinking he's a boy, boys talk later, why does he need to talk when we all jump for everything he needs and he'll talk when he needs to.  As time passed though we got more concerned, had nagging feelings that something just wasn't right and were eagerly looking forward to talking to his pediatrician at his 18 month well check.  Autism had crossed both of our minds but we brushed it off because he does things most on the spectrum don't. The first thing we did at his 18 month well check was fill out an Autism specific developmental screening.  We grew a little more concerned. Our Pediatrician was encouraged by some things and concerned about other things.  So we left his office with a referral for a Early Intervention specialist for his speech and said if we still had concerned when he was 2 we would go further with diagnostic testing. On that day it seemed like we had a good plan but again the nagging feelings he was on the Autism Spectrum were present with both my husband and I.  We separately, unknowingly to the other did research.  It was Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day when it really hit us and I will never forget my husband saying "I really thinking he may be on the Autism Spectrum and we need to move forward with testing now and not wait until he's 2." I remember agreeing with him but also overwhelmed by sadness and guilt.  I don't want this for our son, and what did I do wrong were thoughts going through my head.  I couldn't be more thankful for the way my husband is handling this whole journey.  He's my rock!  He is our son, we love him no less, and it is our responsibility as his parents act rapidly with and get him any early intervention he may need.  The wait and see attitude is not acceptable.  It's been shown that kids who get early intervention do better in life.  It's possible at this early of an age to rewire the brain while developing to minimize the affect on his life.  So my husband schedule an appointment with our pediatrician and a week later I received a call from the early intervention specialist and have an evaluation scheduled for tomorrow.  We went online and filled out numerous questionnaires.  There are many things he has going for him but other deficits that are concerning.

We met with our pediatrician yesterday and couldn't be happier with how the appointment went.  Our pediatrician is very down to earth, informative, supportive and were on the same page.  The Autism Spectrum is such a huge range that someone could be so mildly affected that their behavior is just a little awkward to severely affected to the point that the person is non verbal and you are trying to find ways to connect with them.  At this point his pediatrician is encouraged that he has great eye contact, he seeks affection, he plays appropriately and purposefully with his toys.  He is concerned by his lack words ( zero words), and that he has no desire to bring us into his world by pointing to things he is interested in or wants.  We are concerned about the mono tone humming, and the way he fidgets with his ears as well.  One thing our pediatrician did say what all of these things could be his way of coping with his delayed speech and not Autism.  He agrees with us early intervention is very important.  He is looking into birth to three intervention in our county.  He was pleased to hear we have someone coming to our home to evaluate him.  He would like to get him involved with whatever early intervention he may need.  In the mean time he is going to get the paper work started to refer us for further Autism testing in Seattle.  He said we should be able to get in by Spring, we can always cancel the appointment if we think its not necessary but it's important to get things set in motion.  We left the appointment encouraged we were getting things rolling and are both looking forward to the early intervention evaluation.

While at the appointment our pediatrician also talked about various therapy options and services out there for Autism.  It's possible we may need to move to a bigger city where there will be more services available but we will cross that bridge if we need to later.  It was also interesting to find out there is only 1 woman who is certified to give ABA (Applied,Behavior Analysis) therapy in Walla Walla county.  This was particularly interesting to me from a career stand point.  I am thinking I want to get my BA in Special Education, look into an endorsement (minor) in Autism and certificate in ABA Therapy.  I see a need I would love to fill.

This is not a journey I expected to go on or want to go on but I am here now and as Christian's mama I am going to do my best to make sure he is the best he can be.  You know maybe he is just taking the second channel to learning like his mama.  Maybe all of this is related to his lack of speech and we will get him a little bit of therapy and all will be okay.  If he is on the Autism Spectrum then we will make sure he gets all the therapy he needs and do whatever we need to as his parents to help him be awesome!  All children are gifts from God and we are blessed!! 

On a side note I was encouraged when Christian started clapping again last night and it seemed like he was sharing the fun he was having with his ball last night.  Then this morning I noticed he went to find the cars that fit down one of his tracks (these cars are smaller than his other cars) and he was putting his Paw Patrol dog into the car it drives on the cartoon.  

1 comment:

Lenore Webb said...

There are many versions of autism. My daughter has aspergers. She was never one to speak to people and it took her some time to even talk to us. At 27 she still is slow to speak to strangers and she holds a job as a retail store manager. See there is ways they can learn and proceed in life over time. I remember when she would answer a telephone and just hold it to her ear and listen but never talk. Her grandmother knew by the dead silence it was her granddaughter that she was talking too.

I just wanted to reach out. Tell you to go through these steps and get any help and aid you can. We did not know too. My daughter grew up with just what we could figure out at home and was not give any help in school until college. So do all you can now and make his life easier. Your fantastic loving parents!