Friday, July 29, 2011

Mother Warriors

If there's one thing I've discovered, it's that despite the growing number of children diagnosed with this disorder, there is much confusion and misinformation about what ASD is all about; and most of us have no real idea until we are forced down this path personally.  As parents, we know when something is wrong; we must always trust our instincts, because no one knows our children better than we ourselves; nor will anyone fight for them and champion their cause more than we.

A few months ago, I ran into a lady I had met earlier in the year.  Sabrina had her youngest child with her, a cute little boy about two years old.  She proceeded to tell me about some concerns she had about his development: speech delay, lack of age-appropriate social interaction, and his tendency to self-harm (he would repeatedly bang his head on his crib rails nearly every night).  Through the course of our visit, I tried several times to engage this little boy, but was unable to have any sustained eye contact.  She told me the speech therapist who was treating him expressed her concerns to her, even encouraging her to have him tested for autism or other developmental disorders, but she wouldn't hear of it and even contemplated moving him to another speech therapist.  Her wall of denial was up.  This really broke my heart, as I searched for words and a way to gently encourage her to seek further treatment for her little boy.  I talked about my boys' autism diagnoses, the red flags I saw in their early development, and the milestones they were meeting since beginning their ABA, speech, and OT therapies.  Sabrina listened attentively and asked, "how did you feel (about your boys being diagnosed)?"  Hmmmm....good question.....

Well, I explained, I didn't take a whole lot of time to think about it, and when it's all said and done, it really didn't matter how I felt anyway.  I had so much information to sort through and therapy options to explore, all the while trying to figure out what we could afford to do (virtually none of it is cheap and much is not covered by most insurance plans---but that's a post for another day).  The one thing that is stressed over and over, no matter what the treatment, is early intervention!  I had to act quickly...time was of the essence...there wasn't time for pity parties or what ifs.  There are so many success stories out there of children who learn and grow through their physical and developmental challenges, but denial cripples and wastes valuable time.  I hope Sabrina got that.  (I sure wish I had had my copy of "Mother Warriors" by Jenny McCarthy handy, I would have given it to her!)

I guess you could say I'm passionate about this....
At the top of my home page, I have a link to another page "Autism 101", which is some information I've compiled from the Alabama Autism & Aspergers Support Network.  It includes (in layman's terms) a definition of ASD, symptoms, early warning signs, as well as milestones of typically-developing children.  Pediatricians are also trained to spot problems early on, so answering his questions objectively may help point out possible areas of concern as well.  A child may not have autism, but instead have "just a developmental delay" which is very easily treatable.  The point is, the sooner treatment is begun, the better start your child will have, and always, always trust your instincts mommies!

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