I’m awakened by my youngest who is currently 9 months old, and just sitting here reminiscing on the last 1 and 1/2 year of our lives. Thinking to myself, “wow, we have come a long way”. That means something, I didn’t give up, and I didn’t let it beat me down, so what if someone else could feel the same way? She was 18 months old, my oldest, and I know most parents try to tell you not to compare your kids to others, but this I just couldn’t ignore.
I couldn’t help but notice how other kids her age were spontaneously uttering “mama” “dada” or at least saying “no”, the most heard word for most babies starting at the age where they are able to at least grab things. I kept hearing “oh, she will talk when she is ready”, “nothing’s wrong with her, just give her some time” and that’s what I tried to do. Two more months go by and I’m still not getting anything out of her, completely nonverbal, I’m convinced, I needed help. A best friend of mine reached out and got me the help I needed, with her mom being an Occupational Therapist, just to see if we could base where the issues were coming from. At that time I wanted to cry and I did later on, during the 3 hour ride back home after a week of visiting family, our first evaluation scored her to be at a 9 month olds communication level at the age of 20 months old. All I could think of was “where did we go wrong?” Here I was 8 months pregnant with her baby sister, and feeling very unsuccessful and disappointed, “how do I bring another child into this world and I can’t even get the first one right?” But I didn’t give up, many nights of crying, researching, and seeking resources all at the same time of recieving early intervention services to help. Although there was still something that I felt wasn’t being grasped about her I continued at the pace that we were going. At her second birthday party, July 2016, we had a bunch of children over, and I definitely wasn’t the only one to spot out that she barely acknowledged the other kids around her. She played more by herself and along side the others, but never once interacted with them directly, and unfortunately she was still completely nonverbal. Two years old and her word count was 1 as compared to the average two year old with 250-300 words. I made it my ultimate goal to find out why. As of November 3, 2016 she was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) with language impairment. After a few examinations and evaluations, and migrating from pediatrician to pediatrician, the answer I never once thought to hear, was finally starting to make itself present. The answer to all the behavior issues: extreme food aversion, stimming habits, nonfunctional play with toys, super hyperactivity, obsession with sameness of items or repetition, hand flapping, squealing from excitement, nonverbal, limited interaction with other children her age, inappropriate reaction to certain emotions, not always answering to her name, overstimulation and a few others (I will explain them all on other posts). All of what I had been seeing since she was able to walk was finally being explained and I am still learning a lot, but since the diagnosis we have been seeing a lot more progress in her using more words. Although, there are still communication challenges, expressive and receptive delays are still being worked on but so much progress with the word count and I owe that all to God. Meet my autistic and communication impaired, yet one of the most loving and caring little person in the entire world, almost 3 year old sweet baby girl, Harmonee (Har-Mah-Nee).