autism, lesbian family, supportive, Uncategorized

Making Autism Look Good

April is Autism Awareness Month and I have to take a minute to talk about our sweet boy and his journey.

Three years ago I knew very little about autism. We didn’t know that 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism, boys are 4 times as likely to have it and early intervention is key. I had all the typical assumptions that autism was a disorder where the child made no eye contact, had melt downs, non social, not affectionate, and a child locked inside themselves. The truth is that autism can present itself differently in every child diagnosed. We have learned Noah is all about eye contact, has very few melt downs, is very social, extremely affectionate, and is not locked inside himself at all. But we did learn that he had many of the classic early signs of autism.

Noah was a happy and healthy baby. He was developmentally on track and met all of the milestones that each baby achieves in the first year. When it came time for his first words we waited patiently but they never came. He babbled a lot but still no words. This was our first sign that something was wrong but just assumed that he would just start talking in his own time. Our next sign was that he did not answer to his name.We thought that he was just ignoring us and being stubborn. At one point we even thought that he might have a hearing deficit. Then our next sign was when we noticed he wasn’t playing with toys like other kids his age he was fixated on lining them up and organizing them by color or size. He wouldn’t point to anything he wanted. He wouldn’t mimic our sounds or facial expressions. He couldn’t understand simple directions and it would always upset him when he couldn’t do what we were asking of him. Large crowds and loud environments seem to overwhelm him. He loved to dump everything he could get his hands on: cups of water, baskets of clothes, boxes of toys, etc. He would him or sing the tune over and over again to songs he had heard on movies.


 
 At his 2 year check up my heart sank as we answered no over and over again to the questions that they asked about what he was able to do and say. Realizing just how far behind he was developmentally. I remember crying as we left his appointment thinking this was something that I could have prevented or done more as a mom to help him. But the truth is that there is nothing I could have done. We were referred to our states early intervention program. They came to our home to evaluate him and  determined that he had significant development and speech delays.  He also had sensory processing problems. We began speech, occupational, and developmental therapy. We slowly started seeing progress. Two months before his 3rd birthday we finally received his official diagnosis of autism.

 They strongly encouraged us to put him in blended pre-K class at our local elementary school. As hard as that was we did it and he has just bloomed since then. He is talking more and more. He knows his colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. He can identify body parts and animals. He still struggles with expressive and receptive language but we are making progress. He can tell us when he wants to eat or wants a drink now but has trouble telling us other things that he wants or needs. If he has injured himself somehow he cannot tell you what hurts or where he is hurting. He is getting better at understanding directions and things that we are asking of him but that is still a daily struggle.
Being a parent of a child with special needs is something I never imagined I would experience but here we are. It’s our new normal. We celebrate all of his progress and all of his successes no matter how small they may be. We don’t take for granted that he is such a loving and sweet soul. We adore him and would never change him.

We are beyond thrilled with his progress and know the reason he is doing so well is because of early intervention! I can’t say enough to parents about seeking answers when you see red flags. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for our little guy! We know he’s going to do great things and continue to teach us about the beauties of autism!
***He still sings all the time. He loves singing his ABC’s, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and many other nursery rhymes. I’ve added a few short videos of him singing and talking.

 

 

 


~ M

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Progress

In March Noah started therapy. He is seeing a speech therapist for his speech delay and an occupational therapist for his sensory and development delays. He really likes both of his therapists. They are both so sweet and work great with him. Of course I wish I could say that we had instant success and that he is rambling on in sentences but it doesn’t work that way. I remind myself of that daily but he is making progress. Each week I see them challenge him with new activities and he does a great job adapting to new things and tries to do what is asked of him.

As a parent I still have lots of moments of feeling overwhelmed and sad. I love to hear his little voice and we cheer every time he says anything. He still only has a few words. He doesn’t say mama or mommy yet and that along with I love you are the things I want to hear the most. Some days I blame myself for not doing enough and think what can I do differently to help him. I just wish I had answers and wish I could do something more.

We are moving in June for Les to start her third year of medical school and to start clinical rotations. We are planning on starting Noah in a mother’s day out twice a week in August and it makes me a nervous wreck. I know it is a silly thing to worry over because I’m sure he’ll do fine but because he can’t talk I worry that the teachers wont know what needs. I’ve become an expert at knowing his little quirks and knowing when he’s thirsty, hungry, tired, wants his monkey, etc. But its time for him to be around other kiddos. I know it will be great for him and I’ll look back and think how silly I was to worry.

I just love that little boy soooo much. He has me wrapped around his finger.

I’ll leave you with a few recent pictures of our little guy ☺️

   
                 

Uncategorized

Overwhelmed

Every parent has fears and worries for their children. They may worry that their child may not be accepted or deal with bullying one day. Especially as a gay parent, I know I’ve worried about what Noah might face having two moms. I have worried about the discrimination he might face growing up but here lately I’ve silently been dealing with new fears and worries. I have felt quite overwhelmed recently and decided that it might help me if I wrote about what’s going on.
Noah turned two back in November and he still isn’t talking. He babbles and makes noises but still says only two words clearly and none really consistently. Our pediatrician mentioned some concerns at his 12 month check up and again at his 18 month visit but also suggested that maybe he just needed more time, that boys tend to be slower to talk. Now here we are at 26 months old and he’s still not talking. And I feel panicked and stressed that he’s so far behind other toddlers his age. Despite knowing I shouldn’t compare him to other children I can’t help but do it. I feel so overwhelmed seeing how far he needs to go to catch up.
At our two year visit we discussed the delay in his speech and discuss the possibility that this might be more than a speech delay. We’ve asked about a possible hearing deficiency or autism or aspergers. We aren’t afraid of the possible diagnosis’s just wish I knew why he wasn’t talking. The doc doesn’t seem to think that he fits into either of those categories of autism or aspergers but just simply believes that speech therapy is the key to helping him. So we’ve started down that road. We have a speech evaluation referral and hopefully will be starting therapy in the next couple of weeks. To rule out a hearing deficit he’s had not one but two hearing screenings. The first screening left me feeling unsure and questioning the results bc the told me he was on the low end of normal but offered no real explanations. After the second screening we feel confident that it is not his hearing. That screening at Tennessee School for the Deaf went really well and we felt like he was responding well and they covered all areas of concern.
So now I am hopeful that we’ll have everything going that he needs very soon.
I can’t say enough how sweet and loving our precious boy is. He gives the best kisses and hugs. He brightens our home with his energy, contagious smiles and laughter. He brings such joy and happiness to all of our lives already that I can’t imagine how much more our world would change hearing his sweet voice express his thoughts and feelings. But if he never says a word I’ll love him just the same.

I’ll give another update soon.

~M

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