There were signs. So. many. signs. And I ignored them all. I even had professionals mention it to me and I unintentionally ignored them for years. To the point where I actually forgot they had mentioned it all together. Like it went in one ear and right on out the other..... I just didn't want to believe that was the case for my little boy. I mean, who wants to hear that about their child.
Unlike some people, my family is pretty familiar with autism. We don't see it as a curse or a death sentence... its on both sides of our family and we have never thought any less of someone with autism, but lets be honest.... the thought of your own child facing those challenges in life is scary. The diagnosis itself doesn't change your child, it changes YOU, the parent. They are facing the same challenges as before, YOU have to be the one to guide them, to offer tools to prevent melt downs or guide them through them as they happen. It changes how your family functions. How your days are arranged. How you overthink or reconsider things that others don't really put much thought into. You're more protective of them. You worry about how to handle the meltdowns now that you know they may not just be then misbehaving on purpose.
You may be wondering what lead me to have him tested. Honestly, it was his meltdowns, the constant anger that completely overwhelms him. That's not my loving little boy, that is his brain telling him things are out of his control and he doesn't know how to handle it. Several people mentioned the word: autism. These were professionals who see him regularly.... so I started a list of things that I thought might be signs and sent it to his therapist.
Significant Learning delays – possible dyslexia & dysgraphia?
Currently qualified and receiving Speech and Occupational Therapy
Sensory Processing Disorder
Currently under the care of Dr. for ADHD medication
Currently under the care of a Child Therapist
Struggles with anger.
Tics/repetitive movements (shrugging shoulders, rotating neck, mouth gestures, etc.)
Not smiling when I smile at him and even getting mad when I try to cheer him up most of the time.
Gets very upset if he doesn’t like a certain taste (example: when he had oral surgery, I asked him to rinse with salt water and told him it wasn’t that bad, and he had a complete melt down after tasting it.) (Example: will NOT use any toothpaste except a certain brand and flavor) (He has a VERY LIMITED DIET).
Doesn’t like the way clothes feel and prefers to be in just underwear. Refuses to wear socks due to the seam in the toes.
Will either avoid eye contact all together OR will stare you down when upset.
Struggles when interacting with other children. Doesn’t feel accepted. Doesn’t know how to approach others. Finds it hard to make friends and this makes him very upset.
VERY ANXIOUS – constantly asking if we have enough gas in the van. Freaks out if he doesn’t know where I’m at in the house (like if I don’t tell him, I’m going to the bathroom, he gets scared). Worries about his dad working outside in the weather. Worries we will get lost when we drive or walk somewhere.
Prefers to stay home, so that he can stay stimulated with activities.
Doesn’t understand certain sayings like “break a leg” He takes it literal.
Can’t express his feelings (Example: Will not talk when he is upset. He will hit, kick, bang his head, throw things, etc. and refuses to talk about what is bothering him.)
She referred us to someone in office who could administer the test. I still had hope that he wasn't gonna get the diagnosis.... that is until after the test was over and she said she was pretty confident the test would show Autism. I had 1 whole week before getting the results. OH. THE. EMOTIONS. I know Elijah is the same sweet kiddo but gosh, what does this mean for his future?? The week past slowly and on Monday Feb 27th, my sweet boy was officially diagnosed with Level 1 Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Severe Learning Delays in Reading, Writing, and Language (due to the dyslexia and dysgraphia).
It felt like a huge weight to bear, hearing that (what seemed like) a forever long list of diagnosis' but its the anger that scares me the most. "Meltdowns. How do I handle them? How do I discipline him now? I know what we were doing before wasn't working... but what do I do? I need a freakin' manual!" I told the sweet lady delivering the news! Having this diagnosis is an eye opener, and offers an explanation to so many things.... BUT NOW WHAT? What do I do with this information? While it answered so many questions... I think I have even more questions now than I did before!
When I told Elijah, he shrugged and said, "Okay, that's not bad, Mom! I have watched shows about kids with that!" He was totally not phased in the least. His siblings are accepting of it. WE are all here for Elijah 100% because in this family no one fights their battles alone! We are here for each other no matter what!
This is our life with Autism. We trust God will guide us on this unknown path. Our future may look different than we planned, but that is okay. We have one purpose here on this earth and that is to glorify The Lord. So we will praise Him! We thank him for this unique path he has placed us on and we trust Him to lead the way!
If you have questions, we are an open book. If you are on a similar journey and struggling, I probably wont have any answers for you because I'm still seeking answers, but I'm here to talk! ALWAYS! I hope that in sharing this, it brings awareness. Autism probably doesn't look like what you think it does! Everyone is different, unique, and so so so special. I hope this changes your view on autism.
<3 The Bohemian Homemaker - Michelle Warren