Autism: The first two years from a Mom's perspective.
Signs that I saw.
1.Constant ear infections
2.Crying all of the time
3.Resistance to loud noises
5.No response to own name
6.Putting every object in their mouth even, as they get older
7. Having trouble making eye contact
8. A tendency to want to be alone
9.Trouble adjusting to any change
10.Far behind peers in physical and/or mental developement
I came face to face with Autism on June 26, 2006. I should have been more familiar with it's appearance than I was. My brother suffers from Aspergers and while it is on the Autism Spectrum the symptoms can be different. My third son was born ,just like his brothers, after a normal delivery. He came out crying and he was healthy. He cried alot over the first two weeks and would almost fall into an exhausted sleep at the end of the day. Feeding him kept him quiet for about a half an hour but then the crying would start all over again. Nothing calmed him but quiet music dvd's called Praise Baby. I played these constantly. He hated going out to stores or restaurants. He would scream and cry whenever we went out. I stopped going out in public for fear of embarrassment. I declined all invitations to go out with friends for fear of what he might do. There was no consoling him when he worked himself up. For the first time in my life, I didn't know what to do with my child.
By the time he was two weeks old, I informed the pediatrician of our problems and she prescribed Axid for acid reflux. This calmed him down quite a bit but still he seemed discontented. He caught every illness that was sent his way. He had RSV and so many ear infections that I lost count. It seemed I lived in the doctor's office. At one appointment his eardrum had burst and I had no idea. At the doctor's advice we had ear tubes put in and this helped immensly. He was one year old. The doctor told me his ear infections, acid reflux , and now allergies were all inter-related.
By the time he was 18 months old, he was far behind his peers on his doctor check list. He was mostly behind in his speech. I was told to contact a state-run organization for testing and in home help. I resisted. I think when you hear that something is wrong with your child , you just don't want to believe it. Everything in me screamed that I could never handle a child like my brother. I did the mature thing and ignored the doctor's advice. After all , what did she know?
Two months later, he still couldn't talk. I started noticing kids in his class at church doing things that he wasn't even close to doing. I found the phone number the doctor had given me. The agency was called Sooner Start. They came to my home and ran a variety of tests on him while I watched. They also tested his hearing due to his lack of speech. His hearing was fine. I felt helpless and yet hopeful. They diagnosed him as DD. DD means developemently disabled. I thought good ,maybe he is just a little behind. They recommended speech therapy once a week until he turned three. They would come to my house and I was welcome to stay in the room. I agreed. Everything was free and everyone I met seemed genuine and kind. They then further recommended a trip to OU Medical Center for further testing by a team of specialists. I was told that early intervention made a huge difference.
Two months after his second birthday, we took the trip to OU Medical Center. The doctors were nice and understanding. They tested his gross motor skills and his fine motor skills. The tested him physically and mentally. I was asked to fill out sheet after sheet of questions concerning my observations of him. After all of the testing and many hours , they left my husband and I alone with our young son. They took their findings and talked amongst themselves. They consulted computer programs. They returned to the room. When they sat down , they began to tell us the good things. They then said what I didn't want to hear. "I am sorry but we find that he is autistic." The good news was he was high-functioning. The good news was that they had caught it early. All I heard, was the bad news. What was I going to do? I asked God how in the world could we handle this.
The weekly speech therapy started and the teacher was wonderful. He thoroughly enjoyed her coming and looked for her at her appointed time each week. Once he started getting basic words down his crying started to decrease. I guess he didn't know how else to express himself other than crying. The more he learned the happier he became. I began to hope. The disappointment of the diagnoses led to the hope and joy of a little boy learning to talk and to eventually finding happiness.
My advice to anyone, not wanting to listen to their doctor, is to take that leap of faith and get help. The diagnoses will lead to help and help is what you need. Help is what your child needs too. I also recommend the website autismspeaks.org for a more in depth look at the signs of autism.