Who is he?? Well this is our son, David. He was hanging out with me at the Louisa Agricultural Fair where I was set-up as a vendor. He was the best baby anyone could've asked for there, played sweetly in his travel swing, on the blanket, even napped.
Well about a year and a half later, we began noticing something was different between him and Aubrey, but it always amounted to "he's a boy or he's ____ age," or even "that's just how he is." Our pediatrician said he was a little delayed in his development, in this picture he was 4 months old, and barely 11lbs...not a terrible concern, except he was born at 8lbs. So we switched to formula from breastfeeding and he began to grow and all was well in his size (he is now bigger than Aubrey who is 5yo ~ both in height and weight). He was still slow to roll, crawl, walk, etc but he did do those things shortly after the "typical" milestone ages.
He has difficulty walking, he was severly bow-legged and needed leg braces...down to Richmond, VA we went to the pediatric orthopedic specialist (who was partners with the doctor I used to see for my scoliosis in high school) and then he was fitted for his braces in a different offic a few blocks away.
We then noticed changes in his behavior, temperment and social skills...but once again, they were placed on the leg braces, the daycare environment, the soon to be arrival of Madeline and more. His speech was delayed drastically, but we waited to decide on the urgency of that issue because Aubrey didn't talk until she was 3yo and was the smartest kid in her preschool class this past school year.
This year just before he turned 3yo we were in the pediatrician's office, who had consistently been watching him as we would come in for anything, decided it was defintiely time for intervention with his speech, because Madeline's speech at 18mo was delayed, but could easily be changed if she had a better role model from David. So to be evaluated for speech we went, and they decided he defintiely needed speech therapy services, he needed to see a developmental pediatrician and he needed to be evaluated for occupational therapy services as well...he has a deeper issue than poor communication skills, picky eating and inability to handle change.
Two days ago now, we finally saw the developmental pediatrician and while we had known for a while what the diagnosis was for him, I didn't want to admit it, I wanted to believe they would tell me "he's just 3 yo, he's just a boy, it's just who he is." I didn't get those answers, I got the truth...he is on the Autism Spectrum and while he is getting some of the services he needs, there is much more we need to do.
I wanted to crawl into a little ball by the time we got home (what would've been a 1hr tops appt turned into almost 4hrs), but instead I made it my mission to start calling our insurance company, where he is currently receiving speech therapy, social services, social security and our pediatrician's office...I needed guidance, I needed help because I was running into brick walls with his therapy coverage. And in two days, I've made almost all the phone calls I can, have almost all his appointments in place for further evaluation and well...here I am writing it all out, because I needed to relieve the internal stresses of a mother who has a child, who will have needs the rest of his life now. The best part about David is he has a high therapeutic index, meaning, with therapy, counseling and continued support, he should be able to function in society without many issues.
I found myself saying this last night on Facebook to a friend "he is still my David, it is just a part of who he is, not what he is." And it is the truth, I can define Autism all day long, I can look at every resource in the world and I will not find his name in ANY of that. I refuse to let this define my child and become a statistic in this world. The Autism is a part of his journey through life, but as long as I am in this world, it will NOT control his life.
Many of you will understand this being parents of children who have cancer, heart defects and many other disorders...it is a part of your child's life, but it is NOT who your child is. And I pray that each of you ALWAYS remember that. And while their may not be a cure for everything in this world, as parents of children with needs...it is our job to help them live to their fullest potential in this world.
This is our son now ~ last summer, he wouldn't come near this pole on the playset without my husband or I standing right there to help him down it. This was last month and he JUMPS to the pole and sildes right down before I can even say "Be careful David." He loves trains and cows, playing in the sand and swinging on swings. Each day he learns new phrases and words and we talk...about what he wants to talk about, but we can talk now. He comes up to me and says he wants hugs, he gives kisses and loves to be in my lap...he is the same David we've always known and always will love. We have only learned what makes him unique, what makes David who David is...and why we love him so much!