Ok! So we talked about my son’s beginnings in the last post. Here I am going to copy and paste the follow up I wrote to that entry many years ago. At the bottom I’m going to go over JP’s development as it stands today at 6 (and a 1/2) years.
“Why don’t we dive right into it today and my apologies for this one getting a bit lengthy…. As I mentioned before, today we will talk about some of the little red flags that came up with us for JP. Now, for all you parents of little ones out there, this list is not meant to worry you when you notice that your child does some of these things sometimes. It might be something to bring up with your pediatrician though if you are losing sleep over it. 🙂
Looking back, I guess the first thing I noticed different about JP was his speech delay. I comforted myself with the fact that everyone told me little boys talked later than girls and it just wasn’t a big deal. At around 20 months though, it really started to worry me. We picked up JP from Mother’s Day Out one afternoon and he was crying and a few of his classmates came up to me and said, “JP crying.” I remember getting back in the car and saying to my husband those kids just spoke a sentence, and thinking how JP had a vocabulary of about 15-20 words and that was pushing it. On top of that he didn’t seem to be understanding me even when I spoke in very simple sentences, so trying to correct behaviors was virtually impossible.
Some other little things that I started to notice around 18 months… He vary rarely responded to his name. We had his hearing checked and it was fine. We also noticed a lack of eye contact. He seemed to always be interested in something else. If we did get him to look at us it was only for a couple of seconds. When he got really excited sometimes he would flap his hands a little bit. He became very picky about touching things, especially food. He didn’t want to walk in the grass barefoot, or like to be touched except by myself or my husband and even then he was a bit standoffish. He was a little bit repetitive, wanted to to do things over and over and over and over. His tantrums were intense.. Now I know he’s 2, every 2 year old throws fits. JP’s however would sometimes come out of nowhere and could last between 20-40 mins. Intense screaming, thrashing, and hitting all normal.
Now with all that being said, something you should know about me is that I am a bit of a worrier. Anyone who has known me for longer than about a day could tell you that. So naturally once I noticed one of these little things, I googled and read books and realized that they could all possibly point to something bigger. I told myself just to pray about it and not worry over it, and bring up my concerns to his pediatrician at his next appointment. I hoped he would outgrow some of the behaviors, that this was just his version of being a toddler. When JP turned 2 his pediatrician recommended we have him evaluated by TEIS (our local early intervention system) to see if he qualified for any services through them.
At this point in our life (pre-TEIS and pre-therapy) with JP I was at a loss. I felt like the world’s worst mother. I thought I was failing at something that I felt all my life I had had a calling for. I withdrew. We quit going to play dates because I couldn’t contain my child’s sometimes erratic behavior. We quit eating out in public because the stares from strangers were just too much. I did almost 100% of shopping online. I often found myself in tears (sometimes in public) because I was just so overwhelmed and had no clue what to do…. I don’t tell you this for pity. We are past this point now, and while I do find myself overwhelmed at times, its normal. What mom isn’t occasionally overwhelmed? I tell you this in case you are a mom feeling this way. You are not alone. Or maybe you have a friend with a special needs child. Let them know you are there! It will mean the world to them. I am so lucky to have friends who have stuck with me through all this craziness. You know who you are :)”
Ok so that was the original blog post. I thought about adding in a couple of videos, but that just felt too personal, feel free to message if you want to see some of the behavior mentioned above.
JP is now 6 (and a half) and thriving! After 4 years of various therapies I can say early intervention was totally worth it for us. At one point we had therapy every day of the week, and some days multiple appointments in one day. Most people we meet would never know he had a diagnosis unless they are professionals in the developmental field. He is still different, but everyone is different. His main issues now are sensory related, stemming from sensory processing disorder. I also feel like he has some other learning differences with auditory processing, but that isn’t currently diagnosed. He is 1st grade aged, but at about a Kindergarten level in some subjects. We currently attend occupational therapy once a week with an amazing therapist. We graduated from speech this past summer, and will reevaluate that after he turns 7. (This momma needs a break from multiple therapies a week.) We could probably benefit from ABA therapy to help fix some behaviors he has at home (managing emotions, social skills, feeding), but it isn’t currently in the budget. All of this however has played a role in why and how we homeschool, which I will get in to on the next post.
*side note- We have been so very blessed with our son’s development. When you get a diagnosis, its a scary thing. We were told at his evaluation that they weren’t sure if he would ever talk in complete sentences, be able to fit in in a traditional classroom, or live independently. Autism is a spectrum disorder, and there are many families who start at a very similar place to where we did, but have a child that develops in different ways and may remain minimally or non verbal, and not gain independence. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t pray for these families and all special needs families, and I hope you’ll join me.