Learning my Child has High-Functioning Autism

0-59As a parent, you know your children. From the moment they are born, you hang onto everything they do (or don’t do.)  So when my oldest son was diagnosed last month with ASD to say I was suprised would be a lie. While he is extremely bright, there was always little things Baby Baby would do, that just seemed odd or unique. I would question his behaviors and even talk to Mav about them. I’d be reminded how awful it is to think that there is “something wrong” with OUR son. So I’d talk to other Moms to see how their children behaved. Many informed me “boys talk later, boys are hyperactive, boys, boys, boys.” I started to feel better about my son, just thinking he was a late bloomer after all he was ALWAYS smiling, laughed at silly things, made eye contact, knew his name, started walking at 9 months, knew his colors at a year, could count to 50 at 2. So what if he was quiet, liked to play alone, ignored other kids on the playground, or would find interest in lining up cars by pattern/color.

When my youngest was born, my journey as a Mother would take another turn. He was born with hearing loss, and soon our life would be filled with appointments and teachers. What at first was overwelming soon turned into a blessing. So many resources and helping hands, allowed me to accept a child with special needs. These resources gave me the confidence to speak up and see if there was something I missed with my oldest son. I talked to our pediatrictian and school district to have my oldest assessed, at the time he was 3 years old. The Assessment would take 6 weeks and he would be tested on academics and social skills. Finally, I felt like people were listening and I wasn’t being labeled as a “Bad Mom” because I believed my son was different. I knew whatever we would learn from this assessment would allow my oldest to thrive in all areas.

After the 6 week assessment, a group of professionals sat down with us and gave their results. At this time they didn’t want to test on ASD because they felt a child develops their personality closer to 5. Also, the test results when it came to my son’s academics was high above his level. However, his social skills were very low. This made sense, Baby Baby interacted with a lot of adults. Even when I tried to have him engage with group activities and Sunday School, I always found he gravitated towards the adults so assessing him interacting with kids his own age was going to be low. From these results we put him in a preschool program that would work on socialization and speech therapy. While he had a lot of information in his head he didn’t want to share it. He started this program in the beginning of  2018. It took some time but soon all his thoughts started to be shared. He quickly became a chatter box at home and would voice his opinions on everything!

I started to notice other changes in his behaviors now that he was able to talk. He would voice his opinion repetitvely until Mav or I acknowledge what he was saying. This could be in regards to giving the “okay” on the “right” puzzle piece or protesting brushing his teeth. His fascination with legos and cars soon turned into frustration if he didn’t have “exactly” the right piece or build a structure with the step by step instructions. Routines had to be followed and if something disrupted our routine, a meltdown would occur. When Baby Baby entered TK in the Fall, his behaviors were seen more and more at school. His Teacher and the TA’s noticed he enjoyed playing alone, would interact with other child if they weren’t doing something right, and would have a meltdown if activities didn’t follow the daily schedule. He started to correct the teacher halfway through a lesson before she would finish and give the answers. A story his teacher told made me laugh but also scared. One morning she was going over the letter “M” and a child shouted “Mice.” She proceeded to draw a “mouse” on the board, when Baby Baby under his breath said, “that’s not mice, that’s a mouse.” That morning, a class full of kindergartens had a lesson a plurals because of my son.

Shortly after this lesson we sat down with his teacher and a team of professionals to discuss changes in Baby Baby’s Education Plan, this time they wanted to include ASD in his assessment. This concerned both Mav and I but as parents we wanted him to thrive and saw what his preschool program did for his growth. This assessment took 4 weeks before we found ourselves in the same conference room and with results. We included his pediatrician to ensure we knew educationally and medically we were making the right choices. Baby Baby has ASD, he is high functioning which explains his intelligence however, he is socially awkward. We decided to implement a new educational plan as well as 20 hours of therapy after school. This would start in the beginning of 2019. We figured whatever resources are available is the best way to help socially and socialize. We live in a great time in which we all know kids learn differently and schools are starting to figure it out.

How does this all affect me as parent? It’s hard to say, in truth it’s very scary. I know that i’m going to have to try to be a few steps ahead and constantly challenging my son. I need to enforce strict routines and also, allow my youngest to know he’s valued too. Being a Mom to children with Special Needs is tough but also very rewarding. Watching my boys grow and mark off milestones is a beautiful process. I get frustrated like most Mom’s do but it’s good to know I have a team working with me and helping both my boys thrive. I continuously have to tell myself while i’m capable of doing anything, I can’t do everything. So living in the moment and one day at a time helps keep me reminded of this. I’m looking forward to all the amazing good my boys are going to do in this world! I hope to learn more about ASD, so I can be a better advocate for not only my children but for those in my life.

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