My guest post for Mommy Moment this week is by Jessica from Four Plus an Angel. Her story is truly an inspirational one, raising an autistic child, giving birth to triplets and then suffering through the loss of one baby. I can’t even begin to imagine the emotions and hardships she and her husband have had to endure so I just had to reach out to Jessica and get her to tell her story. How she remains to be such a great mother and person is a true testament to her character and I am so happy to know Jessica and hope to get to know her more and more.
The Autism Story
By the time my oldest daughter, Ashlyn, was three months old it was clear there was not a parenting book out there that could help me.
She did not meet her milestones.
Well she did, just months, sometimes years, after they were supposed to come.
We went from doctor to doctor. Autism was not the buzz word that it is now, and with severe gross motor delays, every doctor we met ordered x-rays and blood work and testing and testing and more testing. Some thought she had cerebral palsy, some a genetic disorder.
No one really knew where to put us.
In the meantime, we spent two days a week at occupational, physical and speech therapy (by today’s standards not nearly enough) and I waited for a diagnosis with a constant tug in my mind that all of the doctors were all missing something.
At three years old, Ashlyn could say “cheese” and “hot dog.” She liked people but only adults. She hated the grass and the sand and tags in her clothes and getting her hair brushed and bright light and noise, but no one said autism.
She started a special education pre-school 5 days a week and she thrived. There were kids in the class with classic autism and I did not see my daughter in them so I thought that must not be it. Not knowing then that autism comes in as many shapes and forms as there are kids with the diagnosis.
We plugged along with no “label” just piles of discouraging testing from the school countered by amazing gains the longer she was in a classroom setting.
Eventually I learned of a nationally recognized autism expert who just happened to have an office close to us.
I drove there thinking I already know what he is going to say, I just need him say it.
He did not evaluate her the way the million doctors of the past three years had. He brought in a doll house and wanted to watch her play. She filled the doll house, with puzzles and books from the corner of the room. Then she took them all out and proceeded to put them all back in again.
He looked at me as if there was never any question.
I will always remember that ride home. I felt an odd sense of relief that we finally had a diagnosis and could move forward, but was also scared out of my mind. Getting an autism diagnosis is like staring into a black hole. No one can tell you what your child’s future will hold.
Ashlyn is now 15 and has far surpassed any future I had imagined for her. If you were to meet her you would not see autism unless you looked for a minute or two and knew what you were looking for. She will talk your ear off, is great at math and can tell you all you ever wanted to know about cooking, her bus route and autism.
In all seriousness, the road to get here has been rocky and we aren’t “there” yet, wherever “there” may be. Every time I think we can coast for a bit we hit a bump and I fall off. I worry about what is happening, why it is happening and what we are going to do to keep it from happening again.
Ashlyn just keeps on going as she always has. Never knowing she has a story to tell at all.
Be sure to check out Jessica’s blog, Four Plus an Angel, to see the rest of her story as a Mother.
I just want to say a big THANK YOU to Jessica for sharing her story!