How I Came To Realize My Son Had Autism.
Juhd was born normally (vacuum assisted) at 41 weeks. He didn't have any complications during birth except that he didn't cry when he came out and the doctor told me that he had swallowed meconium(feces of a newborn). He had a little bit of jaundice but recovered quickly and was basically a healthy baby boy.
His first few months of life were completely normal, he smiled, he laughed, responded to touch and expressions. The only thing we struggled at that particular time was the sleepless nights because he would be very difficult to calm and would cry a lot for a long period of time(which is completely normal for newborns) but it continued for many more months. He never could adapt to a certain sleeping pattern. Still at the time, we felt that it was completely normal and that maybe it was US who sucked at parenting, since Juhd is our first child.
He reached all his milestones on time. He started to sit at 5 months, crawl at 7 months, and started walking at the age of 9 months, which is considered quite early. At the age of 1 year plus, he started to imitate some words the we spoke at home like "No,No,No.." and "apa kaba"..he seemed to develop according to his age so we really did not expect that he had any problems. At this age, the thing that we did struggle with was still his lack of sleep and also bringing him to public places where there would be a lot of people. He would easily get irritated very very quickly at malls or any place that was crowded. He would scream and throw tantrums, so we could never get ourselves to spend more than an hour or two outside in public spaces. But again, we thought is was just us being new parents who didn't quite know how to handle a baby in public.
My mom had a few times told me that there was something different about Juhd and suggested that I look up on possibilities of Autism. I completely ignored that idea and reassured myself that he was perfectly normal. I was in a complete state of denial and was very defensive on the subject.
But things changed as he grew older. I started noticing the changes in his behavior. He would run in circles repeatedly, toe walking, he would also flap his hands whenever he was excited or irritated. He banged his head a lot on the wall. He had very little eye contact, or would avoid eye contact as much as possible. He didn't respond to his name being called. But the most worrying thing at that time was that he started regressing(losing the skills he once had) He would't imitate any more words or never said any of the words he had spoken in his earlier development. He went back to babbling. It seemed like he was just going backwards. Brushing his teeth and getting him to shower would prove to be a really difficult task for us. At weddings or family gatherings, he would play on his own and never mixed with other kids. Often he would suddenly laugh or cry at inappropriate times.
So I started reading about Autism and the more I read, the more I thought to myself 'wow, how can these writers know my son so well' and 'this is so him'. I started crying. I blamed myself. I questioned my parenting. I thought many times did I cause this? What did I do wrong. I'm a bad parent. If I had done things differently maybe he wouldn't be like this. I cried and cried because I didn't fully understand what was going on and still didn't understand this disorder completely. I was worried as to what the future holds for him. I was disappointed in myself. But my mom, husband and family members all gave me and Juhd their full support and would always help any way they could.
Then I started taking to one of my bestfriends about Juhd since she happened to be a speech therapist who deals with children with special needs on a daily basis. I asked her a lot of questions and she assured me that it was ok. And that despite Juhd being Autistic or not, it was more important that I seek early intervention through therapy. Even if a child isn't autistic but has sensory issues like Juhd, he should still go through therapy because it will help him cope better and lessen some symptoms. She advised me to wait until Juhd turns 3 to get a proper diagnosis because a diagnosis at that age would prove to be a more accurate one, since some children are just late bloomers or it might just be speech delay, but not Autism. She advised me to take Juhd for occupational therapy while we wait for him to turn 3. And that's what we did.
Therapy not only did help Juhd, but it helped us tremendously as parents to understand what Autism really was and helped us a lot in understanding why Juhd does what he does. He showed a little bit of improvement especially in his eye contact which to us was a huuuuuuge success.
Finally after his 3rd birthday, we scheduled him for a diagnosis. The results showed that he did have ASD(Autism Spectrum Disorder). Juhd is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. It's called 'spectrum' because each child with Autism is very, very different. There is no 'typical' type of Autism. Some children have severe Autism, some have moderate Autism(like in Juhd's case) and some have mild Autism. Because the severity degree of their symptoms differ from one child to the other.
I didn't have much reaction to his diagnosis because I knew deep down in my heart already that Juhd IS Autistic and that it's OK. Because I'm already enlightened about the disorder. I'm not sad anymore because I know what to do now to make things easier for him. The worst thing that could happen to an Autistic child is his/her parents ignorance. The earlier we accept and learn the truth about Autism, the more we can help our children at having a better life. After all. Autism is not a tragedy, ignorance and denial is.
Autism awareness is very important to educate the public so that they can accept and know how to deal with Autism in the best way possible. Feel free to read more on what Autism is in one of my earlier posts HERE