Monday, April 6, 2015

My 3 Year Old Might Have Autism

Today's post was actually going to be about how to make a no sew burlap bed skirt. But I needed to get this off of my chest.

My 3 year old Timothy has been in a Pre-K program since the very beginning of December. We were referred by his doctor because we had concerns. At 3 he still is not talking. He can talk, but he has never once said a full sentence. He says words but only at random times. He keeps to himself. He doesn't play with other children. And if we veer from routine situations, he has meltdowns.

We had always chalked it off as maybe he's really shy or maybe he's delayed or maybe he just doesn't want to talk just yet. Maybe he doesn't play with kids because he's never been around other kids until recently. But in the back of my head I still wondered "What if?"

We got the referral from his doctor and met with our county's developmental department. We were interviewed. Timothy was interviewed. And we were accepted quite quickly into the Pre-K Program (You have to be approved for the Pre-K program. It has to be determined that your child needs extra help in the county that we live in)

We all thought once in that program that he would start speaking quickly because we've heard so many stories from other parents that all their child needed was "some extra help" or "to be around other kids more." So we were hopeful.

But it's been almost 5 months now and still no improvement. If anything, Timothy is speaking even less now. He used to say is ABC's and would count to 10 (Only on his own time and his own terms) My fiance asked for a meeting with his teachers.

He's in a class with 4 other children. He goes 3 hours a day 4 days a week. He has several teachers and they are all wonderful ladies. I feel completely safe knowing that he is in their hands.

Last night I was just browsing Yahoo's main page when I came across this other mother's experience with finding out her 3 year old was autistic. She had never even thought about it until one day she took him and her infant to the mall and they deviated from their normal routine. She said that her 3 year old had complete melt down right there in front of everyone. She didn't know what was wrong or how to stop him. She was alone and he was trying to hit and kick her and her infant. People were standing around watching and whispering. Judging.

Finally this little elderly woman came up to her and offered to hold her infant while she calmed her toddler down. No one else had even offered it at this point. She accepted and the lady stayed until she finally got him quiet.

As I read this article, I thought to myself "This is me." I am so thankful for my parents because they are able to watch my toddler and infant if I need to go somewhere like the store. Because I have had this same exact thing happen to me. And like the woman in the article, everyone just stares and judges. People automatically jump to the conclusion that you must be a bad parent if your child is behaving that way.

At that moment, I felt like it was meant for me to read that article.

I began researching autism. I was up until 4am researching it when I had to be up at 8am for my infant's doctor's appointment. I came across a website that asks questions and at the end they give you the likeliness that your child might be autistic. (Obviously it was just a questionnaire and not something concrete) I answered all questions honestly and at the end my results said: "Your child is at high risk to have autism".

I went to the appointment hoping his teachers would have answers. We talked for 20 minutes. We were asking questions like "Does he share?" or "Does he hit when he's upset?" and "Does he have tantrums?" And they answered all of the questions for us.

Finally the main teacher asked, "What do you all think?" I felt like that was a chance for me to say, "I think it might be some form of autism". And when I said that all 3 teachers looked at each other and shook their heads yes. They confirmed that they too believe that he has some form of it.

We stayed and talked for another hour. They were so helpful and gave us lots of ideas and tips. At his next doctor's appointment we are going to ask for a referral for him to see a specialist. The teachers are also going to try to get him in with the school psychologist to get her analysis. They said it may take a while to get him in but to keep on with the doctor's and do not let up because the sooner he gets evaluated and they find out what the situation is, the sooner we can help him.

 
Patrick teared up a few times during the interview. I kept cool. I am normally the one who cries and is over emotional. But I never did. I still haven't. I have even thought to myself, "Why haven't you cried? Your child may have autism"? But honestly I am not sad. I am relieved.

I am not relieved that he might have autism. I am relieved that we are finally taking a step forward. I have felt so helpless recently because I feel like no matter how hard we try we aren't helping him adequately enough.

He gets so upset, so easily if we deviate from certain situations. Or if we don't do something quickly enough or to his liking, he has a total meltdown. And because he doesn't speak, it makes things 10 times harder because it is a constant guessing game.

As I was typing this out, he was trying to hit me because he wants on the computer. I had to explain that I will be done in a little while and he can get on it. But it took almost 20 minutes to calm him down.

At times I have felt so helpless or like I was doing something wrong as a parent. I wondered why he doesn't talk or want to interact with other children, why he isn't more loving toward us. I've asked myself "Does he love me?" and cried. It's been really hard.

So hearing today that professionals who have been around this and know what to look for confirm that he might need to be seen made me take a sigh of relief. Again, I am not hoping that he has autism. He may not have autism. It may be something completely different or nothing at all. But we are taking a step forward. And it looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel.

No matter what, I love Tim Tim. I have mentioned all of the reasons that we think he may have a form of autism. But that isn't what defines him by any means. He's a beautiful, intelligent, wonderful little boy. And all I want to do is be able to help him how he needs to be helped.  We are now on the path of doing that.

-Ashli

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