- Bob's little boy (who is now Valedictorian) didn't talk until he was 3.4 years old.
- Susie Q's nephew couldn't tie his shoes until he was 8.
- Your Great-Granddaddy's Brother flapped his hands when he was excited! He grew up normal.
- Boys talk late.
- Boys develop slower.
- He will talk when he is ready.
- He doesn't have to talk (implying that he is spoiled).
Some of these phrases gave me an enormous amount of hope off and on for about a year. I still get the occasional snippet of encouragement from people who don't "know" Drake. Honestly, I realize people are trying to help. I really believe each and every person who has given their advice wants to help and give me encouragement. However I knew, long before I ever uttered the words, Drake has Autism. I remember very clearly the day I first opened my laptop and typed "poor eye contact" into the Google search menu.
I read for days....months....sometimes for several hours. Drake was just under 1 year old when I first began noticing that something was off. Here are the things I noticed. I'm listing them below because I always wanted to read advice from a parent who clearly stated symptoms and what Autism looks like in their child.
- Very little eye contact or engagement.
- Appeared deaf (to voices)
- Obsessed with TV
- No real interest in toys
- Loves movement (Jumping, swinging, rough play) Way beyond what a person would consider normal.
- No words. Around 11 months old Drake did make a few sounds (Da-da, Ma-ma). He made these sounds a couple of months and stopped. I don't believe he regressed, more coincidence perhaps. Drake is still non-vebal at 3, but showing promise of future speech.
- No pointing (Major red flag in my opinion)
- No imitating
- No imaginative play
- Ignores other children
- Odd attachment to toys, specifically Fisher Price, Little People. He carried a giraffe around for months, needing something in his hand at all times. This suddenly stopped about two months ago.
Six long months of research led to me asking my pediatrician for a referral to EI services. Drake was 18 months old. I still had hope, despite what I knew. We started with ST and added OT a few months later. I realized through my long hours of research that early therapy is the best therapy. I wanted more. Unfortunately,little help is available in our rural area. One year later, God opened the door for Drake to receive ABA therapy.
Things began moving very fast and I really did not have time to think about what Autism is...but rather, how can I help my son. The process of "doing" took over and I was in full on robot mode. I still am. I needed to do this. Go here. Do this evaluation. Call this person. Send that email. Beg this person. ADVOCATE. Figure out how I am still going to be a teacher and get my child to therapy several times a week, one hour away. On and on and on....
Smack dab in the middle of all that, between the month of May and June, I had in my hand an official diagnosis. May 8, 2014 Drake was diagnosed with Autism, two days before Mother's Day. It was a beautiful day, sunny, warm..the beginning of Spring. New life. I looked in my rear-view mirror at my sweet boy as we drove away and begged God to help him. I never shed a tear over the actual diagnosis. I was prepared for it. In fact, I was relieved. Now, a few months after D-day, I am finally beginning to feel like I am doing all that I can do. Each day I feel a little more at peace with the course of therapy and treatment we have in place. I can finally breathe a little.
Am I sane? Not hardly. My husband would tell you that I am a total nut case who needs counseling on a regular basis. He sees me at my worst. Gosh, I love that man and I know without a doubt that he loves me and plans to stay the course. I cannot tell you how that security makes me feel. It is priceless. He sees the nasty, snot-slinging, red-eyed monster at least once a month and he loves her.
My Grandmother's Cousin's may have been a delayed talker, but Drake has Autism. I do not like Autism, as stated in my first blog, but I am accepting it as much as I can. All I can do is take this journey one day at a time and hope and pray for the best. The future scares me, but I'm doing all I can right now to make Drake's future less scary. In the end, that is all any of us can do.
Drake: Taken two days before diagnosis.