When we bring our babies home from the hospital we all experience hell week. That bubble of happiness floating around us is popped once Mom, Dad and baby get home. Sleepless nights begin and that new found feeling of REAL worry consume every inch of our being.
After hell week, comes the dreaded clock that starts ticking.
We download our baby apps to tell us when each milestone should be hit. We sign up for emails that send us the friendly reminders of monthly milestones.
It’s a beautiful time. The smiles, the cooing, rolling over for the first time, the laughs.
I remember being overjoyed when Liam smiled for the first time. My baby app said it was supposed to be one week sooner but he was smiling so what did that matter?
Liam started to roll over on his own. It was 2 weeks late but he was rolling so in my mind we were good!
He was sitting up, with major anxiety on my part because he would always be throwing himself backwards. It was 3 weeks late but he was doing it!
He was pulling himself up in his playpen, 4 weeks late. He’s just a boy. He’s learning at his own pace.
I stopped checking the baby app.
I started ignoring the email notifications.
Liam is smiling! Liam is laughing! Liam wants to be held and cuddled.
Autistic kids don’t smile. Not from what I have heard. They definitely don’t laugh.
I was at a cross roads. I couldn’t let myself believe what was right in front of my eyes. All the signs were there.
ALL of them.
I knew something was off. I knew he was clumsy. I knew he was delayed. I knew the milestones were late but they came. Every time I encountered the thought of autism the next day he was doing more. He would do something that let me hold on to my denial longer.
Doctors visits didn’t help. They actually made me fall deeper into denial. The doctor couldn’t see what I saw at home. She saw Liam for 5 minutes. How could she? How could she possibly have any input in these 5 minutes every few months. She always left me with a smile saying he’s doing great. I mean, she has her PHD. She wouldn’t say that unless she was sure he was good, right?
Liam crawled late, walked late.
By this point I have deleted the app and unsubscribed to the emails.
Words came, few but they were there.
All the while, Liam is the happiest baby you have ever seen.
Liam wouldn’t respond to his name. He wouldn’t point. He wouldn’t look at me when I tried to interact with him.
It was time to call early intervention.
We called and they set up an appointment that week to come meet with us. A week later he was evaluated for services. They came and just loved him to pieces. Liam was sitting on their laps, very social and excited they were there. I had a video on my phone of him singing a nursery rhyme. His words sounded from the back of his throat. They thought maybe he couldn’t hear.
We took him to get his hearing tested and he passed with flying colors.
Back to the drawing board.
We did get approved for services. Liam was to start education and speech therapy. We got a big packet in the mail. It had his evaluation notes in it. Right in the front of the package it had his results. His diagnosis was Mixed Expressive Receptive Language Disorder. I had no idea what this was. I googled immediately. From there I searched for videos I could find of kids with this disorder. I thought, OK. We will really focus on language and follow any advise his teachers give us.
Something still wasn’t right. I only had a couple pieces of this giant puzzle I was trying to put together. How do I help my son. What can I do. What is my next steps. We didn’t fit into any category. No real answers. No solid guidance.
We decided to bite the bullet and see a neurologist. This is where we will get the answer we so desperately NEEDED to hear.
We got our answer that day.
Autism is always there. It progresses and it regresses but it’s never gone. It comes with smiles, it comes with laughs. It comes with milestones reached.
You can’t outrun it.
The only cure for autism is awareness.