*Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors*
I usually save these posts for Autism Awareness Month but the inspiration has hit me today.
My Abrial was born on December 27, 2001. I was still 19 years old and had no clue what so ever what Autism was. I don't think that many people really did back then. I had a completely normal pregnancy. I stayed away from drugs, alcohol, seafood, and caffeine. Basically anything I wasn't supposed to have I stayed away from it. I carried her almost to full term. I was induced two days after Christmas and had a perfect delivery. Everything went absolutely perfect.
The only difference, I was breast feeding and hadn't realized my milk was drying up. She got RSV then was getting dehydrated on top of that. Come to find out I was one of those women who couldn't breast feed. The minute she was born my milk was drying up so I didn't get to breast feed but for maybe 2 weeks. I was heart broken. She recovered after a week and after that everything seemed completely normal.
It was around the time of the picture above that she went from saying many words to saying nothing. She was also highly repetitive and stopped looking us in the eye. At first I didn't think anything of it. I just thought she was being a two year old. I mean I was 20 I didn't know anything, I was learning as I went. My "then" husband's father mentioned I should have her tested for ADHD. Reluctantly I took his advice. When the doctor sat us down and said the word Autism my heart stopped. I had no clue what it was or what it meant. I freaked!
I immediately went home and got online and researched for hours! I sobbed like a little girl before I realized, God chose me to be this little girls mom for a reason. I wiped my tears and began the long process of getting her all of the help she would possibly need. I still didn't know much but just like being a mom I learned as I went.
While she was at the ENT getting her earing checked the doctor mentioned to me in passing to call her local elementary school and see if they offered an Early Intervention Program. I will never be able to thank that doctor enough because I went straight home and called her elementary school and they scheduled us an appointment.
After the initial meeting and looking over her records they said she was eligible to begin the program and could go to school for 3 days a week from 8am to 12pm. I lost it. I mean she was 3 years old! I thought I had two more years with her before school started. So I wept some more. But I knew what was best for her and thank God I enrolled her in that program. She went from barely saying any words to full blown sentences within months! By the end of the school year she could finally tell me what she wanted instead of pointing at it. I was overjoyed.
That was her very first school picture ever! My happy amazing autistic angel was blossoming.
She still had her quirks but who doesn't? She repeated everything like a parrot and she used to play with those Little People by Fisher Price and she would carry one in each hand with her at all times. I mean seriously, AT ALL TIMES. When she ate, slept, watched tv, read, and even when she went to school.
Like this.... lol
By the end of her first year at school they suggested she move to another school just down the road that would be better equipped for autistic children. I'm so happy we did. The teachers were fantastic! They didn't isolate her from other kids or treat her different. By the end of Kindergarten she was talking, smiling, knew her shapes, colors, the alphabet, she was blowing my mind!
Her Kindergarten graduation pic <3
Every year she grew more and more. She amazed me. We still had our struggles. She was six by the time she was fully potty trained because the sound of the toilet flushing scared her. It was years before I could vacuum with her in the house and she didn't care for all the kids talking in gym or the lunch room. The teachers got her headphones so she didn't have to hear anything she didn't want to. She used those things for two years straight until finally she put them down one day and was done. I still ask her time to time if she wants them like if we go to the zoo and she just says, "No." I still keep them just in case.
Her first day of first grade
Abrial is 12 now (well will be in Dec) and in 5th grade. We still have our issues from time to time. She went a LONG time using lines from movies or tv shows to communication with us. She has pretty much stopped that now. Although she likes to repeat her favorite lines a lot she doesn't use them to communicate. She is still learning what homework is. She still hasn't grasped onto why she has to do school work at home but we're working on it. She HATES her picture taken now which sucks but I hope that goes away soon. And she has to wear the same 5 shirts every week! We are slowly working on that as well.
But she is getting great grades in school. She's become super independent which can be a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. She's beginning to ask questions about life so I answer them as well as I can. She has friends!!! Big step for her! I cried the first day her teacher told me she had a friend at school. She talks all the time. If she doesn't know you it may take awhile but if she knows you she will talk your ear off. She lives on her laptop and her iPod and FINALLY she watches shows with actual people in them!! She used to only watch cartoons but now she watches shows on Disney XD like Jessie. Jessie is her favorite show.
I'm so proud of my little girl. She hasn't let Autism hold her back and she constantly surprises me. Sometimes I think Autism is a blessing. She's the easiest of my children and she doesn't lie, she doesn't understand the concept of it and she has taught me more than I could have ever dreamed of.
I say it all the time and I will say it until the day I die. Early Intervention is KEY! If we had waited longer to have her tested and get help I'm scared to think of how she would be today. I'm truly blessed with her and with all the amazing doctors, therapists, and teachers we have here.
I love someone with Autism. I can't wait to see what the future brings for us.
Thanks for reading!!!