Linden 18 months old- Not walking or talking. I didn’t think it was a big delay or deal at the time. My daughter Taylor who is turning 4 in September was diagnosed at 18 months with apraxia of the speech. She has been going to speech therapy since 18 months of age and still goes bi weekly. Her speech has grown heaps and bounds over the last couple years. Talking with Taylor today, you would not think she has a speech delay as she is doing great, however as her parents we know when she starts to stutter or repeat herself its the Apraxia. She has learned a different way to master her language.
While walking into Taylors appointment with Linden who was 18 months old at the time, the speech therapist looked at me and said, “ Is Linden talking yet?” As soon as I heard those words I knew! I knew my son was delayed as well. I knew he was 18 months old and wasn’t talking. At that moment I realized we were going to be going through speech therapy yet again, however I did not think my son has Autism.
We started speech therapy for Linden shortly after that visit. From there we were passed along to Centre for Child Development, Infant Development, our Paediatrician, family doctor, and finally Child Psychologist. Linden was now going through a 4 week process of an evaluation for Autism.
While all this was going on, my mind was in a blur…. Autism? What is Autism? Flappy hands, no eye contact and anti social? My sons not autistic. I started watching every Documentary. Every you tube video, joining all Autism Facebook groups. I have grown to realize Autism is a HUGE spectrum. It starts with high functioning, then moderate autism, to sever autism. And then you have to deal with what goes along with Autism- ADHD, OCD, Turrets syndrome, seizures, global developmental delays, Sensory processing disorders, and the list goes on. Its not a simple diagnosis-
So what is Autism?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.
Why my son? It doesn’t run in my family. Is it genetic? Why me? Well apparently to Canadian statistics, 1 in 68 kids are on the spectrum. Of the 1 in 68, 3 out of 4 are boys. Studies are showing its either a combination of , environmental factors, genetics, and prenatal care. No it doesn’t run in my family. I thought my environment was safe? I don’t recall any factors, and pre-natal care? Of course i didn’t consume alcohol or drugs, took my pre-natal vitamins and carried until 39 weeks. Why me?
Finally we received our diagnosis- Severe non verbal autism with a global developmental delay. SO the questions start- are you sure its severe? Maybe I answered a question wrong, maybe they just saw him on a bad day, maybe he really doesn’t have autism? Maybe its just a phase, maybe he’s just a terrible two year old? Was I doing the right thing?
I accepted our difference. I accepted that life will be challenging at times. I accepted that we don’t know what the outcome will be. What I do know is I have an extremely loving little boy. A boy who has already taught me so much about life. Taught me to see life in a different way. Taught me to come down to his level and try to view the world through his eyes. Linden is not dumb. He just learns differently. Linden can learn, but in different ways. His brain is wired differently. What may seem like a gorgeous sunny day to the typical person, to him may be a headache of sunlight. The birds chirping peacefully in the morning may be a piercing sound. The fans in the bathroom may be the most triggering noise for a child with Autism. Sounds, lights, visuals, routines, food, these can call be triggers for a meltdown with a child with Autism.
Unusual behaviours are common in children with Autism. For Linden he has extreme strength. He enjoys pushing anything. These motions are a way of self regulating. It calms his body. Linden enjoys running- He is super quick. The scary part is he bolts- He will run and keep running- he will run into traffic, down an escalator, into an elevator, over a ravine. He has no sense of danger. Injuries is another big one with Linden. He doesn’t always feel pain, but when he is seriously hurt he doesn’t know why or where he is hurting. He does not gesture or show me his pain. Its so hard as a mother to see your child in pain but not knowing where he has been hurt.
What really matters is I have a child with Autism. He is different, not less. He has brought so much light in my eyes amongst all the difficult times. Sure I worry about the future. I worry about school work, bullies, education, jobs, marriage, will Linden have kids of his own? But what I know for sure is we take each day as it comes. We learn something new each day.
Hold onto your mommy intuition. If you know something isn’t right, get it checked out. Fight your way through the system. I know I had to have 7 professionals tell me my son is showing red flags for autism before i got him assessed. I wanted to make sure my opinion was shared by others.
Eileen from @the.autism.cafe was the first person I ever reached out to about my son. She gave me so much insight on Autism. She shared with me her experiences. She shared her struggles and success with Autism. She encouraged me to get Linden assessed. Eileen runs an amazing blog over at www.theautismcafe.com I encourage you to follow her on Facebook and Instagram and follow her blog on her website. She has a ton of great content. We are hosting a giveaway together from July 12th-14th. Enter to win a $40 store credit. Check us out in Instagram for details! @the.autism.cafe and @taylinthreads
I want to thank you Eileen for your help and support
Now onto the next chapter in our life….. Autism