Autism: Normal to abnormal in a matter of seconds

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Follow a story of a family whose little boy was diagnosed on the autism spectrum and the steps they took to overcome this diagnosis.

This story is a personal one and should not be taken for any medical advice. This is simply parental advice. If you are questioning the behavior your child is exhibiting please talk to a medical professional to attain a diagnosis through an evaluation.

 

By Becky Horace

Years ago, my husband and I started a little family. Our son came into this world and despite being a colicky and difficult baby with his sleeping and feeding he was perfect. By perfect I mean developing right on schedule. Everything was normal. He was doing everything the books said he would and life was good. I still remember the moment and spot where I was standing in our home when he said his first word “dada” followed by pointing at the dog and saying “dog dog.” He just kept going from there, he knew what he wanted and had no problem communicating his desires be it “juice” “milk” “cracker” etc.

Then one day, our family was offered an opportunity of a life time to move around the world to become expats in Bangkok. This seemed like a good idea. This will be a new life experience! Why would we say no? We are young. Our child isn’t in school yet. I can be a stay at home/work from home mom to spend more time with our son instead of having to work everyday in an office if we stay in the US. There was no reason not to go on this adventure. We agreed and we were off to the other side of the world in January 2013.

In a span of a 30 hour plane ride, it felt as if everything went from normal to abnormal in a matter of seconds. Everything we thought we knew was far from us. We were fish out of water but we kept saying if we just stick together and focus on each other we will be okay. Days turned into months, life seemed to become a little more normal for my husband and I but our son was not adjusting so well. He actually started to seem a little abnormal in his behavior. I kept thinking “well this is a big deal for a little person and he will be fine with more time.”

The more playgroups we attended with children his age the more I realized something was not right. We as parents shouldn’t compare our children to others but at the same time they are a good benchmark for typical development if there seems to be something off. The vocabulary he had to communicate with us was diminishing by the day. I attributed that to being in a country where he didn’t hear much English. My little boy was all about his mommy before the move, like I said our normal went to abnormal rapidly. Now in a foreign land, with strange people always touching him and speaking to him in a strange tongue, he retreated into his shell. An 18 month old should be interested in his mom and curious as to what is going on around him but all of a sudden my son would not look at me, respond when I called his name, play or even look at other children, and I swear there were days I wouldn’t hear him make a sound. With little to no vocabulary he resorted to screaming and inconsolable tantrums as his primary mode of communication.

Life as a toddler and as a stay at home mom in a foreign land was a battle every single day. There were days when I felt like I just couldn’t take the crying anymore to the point where the thought of “maybe he would be better off and happier without me” would enter my mind. This can’t be normal. I was at my wits end. I couldn’t take anymore. I told my husband “something is seriously wrong with our son. We need to talk to a doctor.” He saw the desperation in my eyes and agreed we should look into it.

Tips from the mom

  1. If you feel in your gut something is not right please stop worrying about what anyone else says or thinks. Speak to your pediatrician. There is literally no harm in asking a question that could change your child’s life forever.
  2. Don’t compare your child to others to an unreasonable standard but do observe and assess the differences, this can help create the basis of the conversation you need to have with your child’s doctor.
  3. If you see a regression in your child’s behavior don’t wait. Take note of what is going on and speak with a doctor.
  4. Remember whatever is happening is not your fault and you are not alone.

 

This will be an ongoing series of articles of our story through an evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and the end results during our son’s last two years of therapy. I will share with you from a parent’s perspective what we have learned and in layman’s terms explain our son’s diagnosis and the type of therapy used to help him succeed.

I hope you enjoy this read and please know no matter how bleak it may seem you are not alone when you are going through this. Parents around the world are in your same shoes looking for support and love; you just have to be open to talk about it.  

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