A Personal Autism Journey - Part 1
How My Son Was Stolen
Ayden, the Autistic: My story
I have three children, one of whom is diagnosed with "mild" autism. Ayden, my only son and middle child, has had Autism since he was four months old. That's right, I said four months old. What is Autism you ask? For more information on Autism, how to tell if your child could possibly be Autistic, characteristics of an Autistic child, and what to do if you think your child is Autistic read my other post: Autism Explained. If you like this story visit How my Son was Stolen Part 2!
Newborn Ayden to 3 Months
Ayden was 38 weeks when he was born, all of his 6lbs. 11oz., 19 3/4 inches long, Ayden was a joy to bring home. Barely ever cried, cooed and laughed as early as 2 1/2 months, and was always happy to see me, and to hear my voice. I took him for his 2 months set of shots when he was 3mths. old and he was the "normal" baby I had born into this world. When he got his vaccinations he cried, like a "normal" baby, but something felt wrong. Ignoring my feeling of anxiousness when he got his shots, I took Ayden home. Ayden cried all the way home, and four hours after. If you have children you know that all pediatricians will tell you that there's a possibility of a fever as a "side effect" of the vaccinations. My oldest daughter never had that "side effect", but when Ayden's temperature was 100.8° Fahrenheit I didn't take him to the hospital. I just gave Ayden some Tylenol, but his temperature skyrocketed still.
It wasn't until his temperature reached 104.3° Farenheit that I rushed him to he hospital. The hospital gave him Tylenol and sent him home with a warning: if his temperature rises instead of falls, bring him back in. Ayden's temperature stayed at 104.3 for two days after I took him to the hospital, and then it decided to decline, and he was back at a normal 98.6 degrees Farenheit. He was almost four months now, and had replaced his laughter and cooing with fits of crying all day. I figured something was wrong with him, but instead of listening to my "Mommy Intuition", I chalked it up to him possibly developing Colic.
The day after the fever broke he was quiet. No cooing, no laughter, no crying, nothing but silence. Though I thought it odd, I didn't think, "Oh, he's Autistic". The very next day I discovered that along with his sounds, he had stopped looking at me when I held him, and he had also stopped smiling as well. At one point and time I had research Autism because my eldest child was banging her head, and when I looked up "head banging in babies" on Google, Autism was listed as one of the possible reasons why she had been head banging. Though it had turned out she wasn't, something kept screaming at me to look it up again... this time for Ayden.
4 Months to 9 Months
At four months old, Ayden had done a 180° in his personality and his demeanor. I did some internet searches on detecting Autism, and most of the information, about 97% of it, was for detecting Autism in toddlers. Anything I found on the subject of Autism in babies, at that time, was pretty much just debates on whether or not you could tell that young or not, and if Autism is a born disability. I found some symptoms that did fit Ayden, but others were just too early to tell. Autistic traits like: not making eye contact, limited to no physical interaction, and the lack of interest in people, toys, and animals fit Ayden perfectly. He was a Mommy’s baby, and now he wouldn’t even let me hold him. I read all I could about Autism, and how to detect it in your child, and within the first week of my research there was no doubt in my heart that it’s what plagued my little boy. My heart knew that it was Autism, but my mind was in total denial. How could I, at 20 years old, have a son that was mentally disabled? Maybe I just read his signs wrong? Maybe I was looking into this too much? Though these thoughts invaded my mind I was determined to find out for sure, and embark on the next step.
Upon researching about Autism I found several debates on whether or not vaccinations could be the cause of Autism, and I remembered back to when Ayden had his 104.3° Fahrenheit fever after his vaccinations. So, when his four months vaccinations came up, I was very skeptical about him getting them. So much so that he was five and a half months old before I took him to get his four months old vaccinations. His pediatrician, at that time, had been my pediatrician when I was growing up. I was definitely comfortable with her, and she’s been my children’s pediatrician since my eldest daughter was born. My only problem with her practice is that patients had to wait in the lobby for hours to be seen, her nurses had overbooked every time, and she would hardly ever make a personal appearance, even for ten minutes, because her nurses did mostly everything.
I waited that day, I remember, for almost four hours for Ayden and my daughter name to be called for their routine vaccinations. They checked both of my children at the same time; my request to save time. When they finished checking their vitals, weight, and height we were told the doctor would come in for a check-up. The doctor came in and checked my daughter and Ayden’s hip alignments, eyes, ears, and asked if I had any concerns. I hadn’t told her about my home diagnosis for Ayden, still in denial perhaps, but I did tell her I thought Ayden had been acting a little “off” for the past few months. I tried to describe his behavior and personality traits, hoping that the doctor would pick up on what my heart already knew, and my mind denied feverishly. She didn’t however, and just told me that boys develop slower than girls and that I should just, “give him time”.
When I left the doctor office my head agreed with the doctor, but my heart screamed at me, “What is wrong with you? You know something’s wrong!” Two very conflicting emotions were speeding through me, faith and doubt in the doctor’s words. Doubt won over as soon as I took Ayden home, and I cried in despair the whole day. Every article, news clipping, Google search, book, and website about children said to never ever compare your children’s milestones and learning capabilities. I couldn't help comparing Ayden to his big sister. Everyone I told about my unprofessional home diagnosis of Ayden agreed with the doctor’s diagnosis instead of my own, even my husband. I tried to point out that my daughter was speaking and sitting up alone by herself at six months, and that she was standing and pulling up on her own at seven months. Ayden was almost eight months old and I couldn’t even prop him up. I was alone in this thinking, I felt so discouraged and helpless. It was almost as if he had developed a man eating disease and I couldn’t get anyone to help me save him, I felt so helpless.
Though I fell into a deep depression, my heart still kept me going to try to find help for Ayden. At Ayden’s six months check-up I demanded his pediatrician to refer me to somebody for something because I knew something was wrong with Ayden. By this time Ayden had become really clingy to me, and I really didn’t mind. He was that baby that loved his mom to hold and rock him again, and after months of having your newborn cry every time you hold it, even to feed, you don’t mind the “two armed up pick me up Mommy” sign language. His doctor still insisted that I give him more time and that, although he was almost eight months and not doing any milestones, he was growing “normally”. She did, however, give me a referral for Richmond Children’s Hospital for an evaluation. Ayden was eight months when he went to RCH for his evaluation, but they could only tell me that he had low muscle tone.
The Breakthrough - 11 Months to First Birthday
Ayden started his first physical therapy home session when he was ten and a half months old. At eleven months old, Ayden wasn’t babbling, pulling up, trying to crawl or walk, playing with toys, or any milestone that even an eight months old baby should have already accomplished. By Christmas 2007 Ayden was able to sit with no help at all, but he still wasn’t trying to crawl yet. Ayden’s first birthday approached fast. One day, a week before his first birthday, I had laid Ayden on the floor for some tummy time and ran to the bathroom. Being that it was just my daughter and Ayden in the house, I always kept the door open so I could hear them if something went wrong. My daughter was in my room, watching television at the time when I heard slapping on the living room floor not a second after I had gotten into the hallway.
thought nothing of it, maybe Ayden was just slapping the floor, but this sound
was getting closer, it was coming down the hallway towards me. I couldn’t see
out the bathroom door, so this mysterious sound made me anxious. As it grew
closer to the bathroom, where I was, I grabbed the towel rack, ready to hit it
once it came into view. Standing, ready to strike, the sound had stopped. I
peeked down the hall, nothing was there, I was about to step out of the
bathroom when I looked down and saw Ayden sitting in the bathrooms doorway, smiling
at me. Ayden had crawled! For the first time he crawled, and on top of that, he
crawled to find me! Right then I had found my hope! Autism kidnapped my son, and I'm getting him back!