People often ask me how I suspected my son Brody had autism. Brody has a great sense of humor, plays with other children and by looking at him there are no tell-tale signs of the disease. Early intervention was key in getting my son the help he needed, and if it wasn’t for the help he received he would not be the same little boy he is today.
Autism spectrum disorder is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges, according to the center for disease control. It is estimated that about 1 in 68 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder.
Autism can often be difficult for a parent to detect because it is a spectrum disorder, meaning no child with autism is the same. Since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorders doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis.
Brody ran around, smiled, made eye contact, but he wasn’t very verbal, and transitions were hard for him. The biggest thing I noticed was he wasn’t saying much by the age of 2. When I would come into contact with children the same age the delay in his progression became more apparent. He also became easily frustrated when he could not communicate, did not like large groups of people and transitions were extremely difficult.
As a parent we never want to believe there is anything wrong with our children, but the more Brody struggled, I knew I had to reach out and get him help. At the time I lived in California, and I contacted an early intervention program. Soon a team of specialists began working with Brody in speech, occupational therapy, applied behavior analysis therapy, and provided parental support.
The changes in my son could be seen within the first month. Brody learned sign language and soon he began to talk. It was like he had been storing all his thoughts, unable to express them for months and all of a sudden his thoughts came miraculously pouring out.
Although at first the word Autism was scary, I soon realized it was just a word used to describe how my son processed things just a little bit differently.
Today Brody is almost 6 and he is in public school. He can tell you the entire alphabet and the Douglas County School system has been supportive and instrumental in continuing his success. There was a time I thought Brody might not ever speak, and now he is a very vocal little boy who will tell you a tall tale if you let him.
April is Autism Awareness Month, and my hope is that by sharing our story we might help another family on the fence about getting help or struggling with a new diagnosis. I am here to tell you my son is a success story and with help your child can be as well.
If you suspect your child might be exhibiting signs of autism, I encourage you to contact F.E.A.T. of the Carson Valley, www.featcv.org, and I challenge you to sign up for their annual run on April 26.