Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Some Thoughts on Autism

I've been debating for some time whether we are ready to share this little family secret of ours. It's not that we're trying to keep it secret, it's that we don't have all the answers yet. It's hard to tell people exactly what's going on when we don't know ourselves. What I can share is what is going on so far and offer a little insight to those who might be dealing with the same things we are.


The Suspicion Builds
We have been suspicious of both our twin boys having Autism, for a long time actually. We had a pretty normal pregnancy. Nothing "wrong" or "unfixable" happened. I carried 39 weeks, which is incredible for twins. That's actually a week later than they prefer. The kids were really comfortable, while I was not at all. I was hugely stuffed with babies.

When they were born, all was normal. We started noticing little things, like the way both of our children seemed to have a harder time staying calm and happy. They were unusually fussy and we thought they had gas, colic and everything else under the sun. It's when milestones started coming and going that things really started to add up.

What We're Looking At
So far, our little guys are about 21 months old. They do not speak a word. They babble some, Eli much more than Parker. Neither one of them chew, they haven't figured it out yet. I still hand feed them and feed them bottles. I guess without going through a HUGE list, let me say this: They are physically on time. They crawled when they were supposed to, walked, they are right in line with every other kid in every measurement and weight. Visually and physically, you wouldn't ever know. As far as other important areas of development, they are about 50% behind. So basically, whatever children you know around 10-11 months of age, that is exactly what my kids are doing at 21 months.

How I feel about It
To me, this is no big deal. People are born and they are what they are supposed to be. My kids are cute, loving, sweet, smart, hilariously sneaky, really well behaved in public, healthy, super happy and so many other great things. I don't consider what's going on to be anything bad or sad. Don't get me wrong, it has been difficult -but- difficult in the way that we're still in the middle of an "infant stage." Where most parents at this age are enjoying their kids being more independent, playing, talking and feeding themselves, I am still doing the newborn things.

We've been living through the beginning baby stage almost 2 years now, which is exhausting. That's one reason you'll hear me say I feel old and tired often in my blog posts. I'm only self absorbed about my physical exhaustion and only because it hurts. Everything else, I focus on the positive. I always remember that this is about them and making their life easier, better and more fulfilling in he future. I work hard now so things are good for them now and later. I keep my goals focused there.

Our Diagnosis
We had our first official diagnoses of PDD {Atypcial Autism}. Autism has a few categories all in what they call the Autism Spectrum. So far, our kids fall under a diagnoses of PDD because of the milder symptoms in only a few areas.

What We're Doing About It
So far, as soon as my pediatrician confirmed my suspicions with hers, I immediately started home therapy. We work with a great group 1-2 times a week helping to challenge the kids. We've been working with them for over 5 months now.

I also mentioned a few days ago that we're looking into preschool daycare. Well, what I didn't mention, is it is a special preschool daycare for children with Autism. They will be playing and learning with other kids like them and working with amazing behavior therapists on their speech and language skills, physical therapy, social skills and other areas.

Why We're Doing What We're Doing
The earlier you begin therapy, the better it is for your children in the future. Research shows that early effort can produce significant increases in the overall development of young children with autism and can reduce, and in some cases even completely eliminate, the need for special supports in school settings later.

What This All Means
We're a family dealing with the things a family deals with. Everyone has their things and this is one of ours. Hopefully, now that we officially know what we're working with, we can help spread the word. I'd like to share our stories and would love to hear from others dealing with anything and everything. It feels really good, after all this time, to finally be talking to people about it. If anyone ever wants to ask questions or share their story, please feel free to comment and/or write me any time.