Autism Awareness Month is coming to a close and it makes me kind of sad. I know that all of the specials and airtime will stop. There will be less articles and focus on Autism. Our kids will once again be pushed to the side. And I am a realistic person, I know there are many diseases, wars and issues out there on peoples minds. But Autism is always on my mind, and I am going to share it with all of you. Because I really feel by sharing Mateo’s story I can make a difference.
I am eager to start a Non-Profit here to help families find the help they need, offer low cost classes and help people find support. I know with that I can make even a larger impact.
But today, I am going to share some of the clues that lead us to Mateo’s diagnosis. Maybe someone out there is wondering if their child, grand-child or relative could be Autistic. The hardest part with Autism is that it effects every child so differently. But this is what happened with Mateo.
- Around 18-20 months we noticed that Mateo’s language had plateaued. He didn’t really have any more words. He would repeat a lot, like we would point to our dog and say “Dog!” and Mateo would say “Dog!” He could repeat a whole book to me called “Moo, Baa, La La La”. But didn’t say his name or hardly any independent language.
- He wouldn’t respond at all to his name. We would call him and he wouldn’t turn around. He would just keep walking. We even had his hearing checked.
- He did not point to objects or wave good-bye.
- He would wander off, he would see something in the distance that would catch his eye and would take off. Not caring if we were behind him.
- We called him “Teo Bird” because he made high-pitched noises and sounded like a bird. His vocalizations were in a “sing song” fashion.
- His eye-contact with strangers was rare, but he would make eye-contact with family.
- He ran around in circles a lot, loved to be spun around, swings, anything that kept him in motion. The rest of us would be lounging on the couch and Mateo would be running in circles in front of the TV.
- Loved to figure out how things worked and would try to take things apart.
- He would bang a cabinet door over and over again, and lacked impulse control to stop.
- He could spend a long time playing by himself and not need our attention.
- Later on he began flapping his arms, doing arm circles and hitting the top of his head.
- He was never aggressive, very affectionate, always a happy and smiling kid, was pretty easy going, played imaginary games with his sister, ran around with other kids. He loved trains, but didn’t really line stuff up or just play with the wheel of a car. So he bypassed a lot of the “autistic stereo-types”.
My advice to anyone who asks me what Mateo’s signs were, if you are worried please get him/her evaluated immediately. The sooner you can get services the better. Many parents are afraid of the diagnosis. And my advice to any parent who is worried of their child being judged or being treated differently because they have Autism. Not getting a diagnosis won’t change anything. If your child has Autism, your child has Autism. If you get services you are giving them a chance. You are giving them the help they need.
No one wants to hear those words- your child has a disability, your child has a disorder. It is difficult for you as a parent. And Reuben and I went through all of those emotions. But when you step back and think of your child. There is only one answer- you want the VERY BEST for them. You want them to find their own path in life and be happy. You would do anything for them. So this is just another step. Helping them to find their way.
I hope Mateo knows that no matter what happens in this world, we are here for him and would do anything to help him find happiness. And it’s not about us as parents, it’s about him. He has his own path in this life.
So please call your Regional Center and pediatrician if you are concerned. If your pediatrician brushes you off and says things like “Well his big sister talks for him.” Or “Let’s wait 6 months and see!” Call your Regional Center. Don’t wait. Six months of therapy is very, very valuable. And lean on other parents, we have been there and we are here to be supportive!
For more info on my Non-Profit Project visit The Sensory Cafe.