There are days I throw myself a pity party, days where I get mad at myself, and days where I'm just so tired of it all I literally sleep the day away. Oh, and let's not forget my good old friend, the one that's stuck with me through thick and thin, the one that never leaves my side as other friends have done, the one and only: Guilt. Born a girl, and Catholic, I never stood a chance to escape this friend. I was literally born with him beside me. My twin. I call him/her "Lola." My sick, twisted, evil twin.
When I go to visit the Autism Winnipeg Facebook Page, I see new members coming on daily. These new members are asking for advice for their little ones just diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. When it comes to the little tykes under the age of five, I feel like screaming at the parents to take the ABA (applied behaviour analysis) therapy, or the Floor Time Therapy, hell take them both if you can. I think the toughest Autism Winnipeg Parents to hear from are the ones that got their child's diagnosis after age five, where the child is past the acceptable age for ABA or any other therapy, as was the case with Dayton...
But it didn't have to be that way for Dayton...
We lived in Calgary at the time, and Dayton was just under two years old when early intervention came to my home to do observations on my little tyke. And one day, in my home, in front of my babe, they tell me: "We're not sure, but we'd like to observe Dayton for autism."
My reply? "What are you on crack? My son ain't no 'Rain Man!' Get out of my house!!!
I had worked with children with disabilities for about a year at this point, and had a few children with autism on my case load. These children, however, I fed through a G-tube. They were completely non-verbal, in diapers at age 7 and often zoned out into 'their own world.' A lot of stimming, such as head banging, humming, rocking and finger flapping came along with their autism. My babe was NOTHING like that!
So, when Early Intervention told me their reasons for observing Dayton for autism, I dismissed their reasoning away...
Reason 1) Dayton does not speak well, and only has five words.
Big Momma's denial or lie: Yeah, he's not quite two, and he's an only child. Plus, let's not forget he's a boy and boys are a wee bit slower than girls, right?
Reason 2) Dayton grunts and points at objects he wants instead of asking for them with his words.
Big Momma's denial or lie: Ummmm, yeah... He's a boy! Plus, I finish his words for him and I know what he wants so I just get it for him. I've made him lazy is all. I'm his mom, it's my responsibility to know and sense what my babe needs, right?
Reason 3) Dayton's only form of entertainment are dinosaurs, even though he has many other toys to pick from, he continually chooses the dinosaurs and plays with them exactly the same way every time.
Big Momma's denial or lie: Ummmmm, yeah... Again, he's a boy. If he was playing with Barbies, I'd be worried.
Reason 4) Dayton chooses the dinosaurs over other toys because dinosaurs don't speak, so he doesn't have to.
Big Momma's denial or lie: Seriously people! Are you on crack? For real?! That means the rest of the boys out there playing with dinosaurs are autistic too! Every boy I've met has played with dinosaurs!!!
Reason 5) Dayton walks on his toes.
Big Momma's denial or lie: yeah.... I got nothing for that one. Maybe he wants to be a ballerina? OK, so I agree, a little weird, but we can fix this. Doesn't mean my babe's like 'Rain Man.'
Reason 6) Dayton doesn't cry when you leave the room.
Big Momma's denial or lie: I think that's freaking awesome!!! I'm grateful he's not a big momma's boy!
Reason 7) Dayton doesn't make good eye contact.
Big Momma's denial or lie: Neither do I... I'm working on it though. Maybe he's a little shy like I am (NOT), but you know... that's what I mean, was I lying to myself or in denial?
Reason 8) Dayton's play skills are delayed.
Big Momma's denial or lie: Ummmm, hellllllooooo... My babe's just under two years old! How delayed could he possibly be: a day or two?! Get over yourselves! Plus, that's my fault. I don't know how to play, I was a single child too and had no one to play with. I'll learn how to play and play with Dayton more often then. I can fix this.
Reason 9) Dayton eats the crayons instead of drawing with them.
Big Momma's denial or lie: He's a toddler people! Why does every parents ensure there's nothing for a toddler around the house for the child to choke on? Because all kids stuff their mouths with something not edible... That's how they explore, right? Could that possibly be why most toys for older kids have a warning "Choking hazard, not for children under 3?" Maybe he doesn't have an interest in drawing... I know I don't. I can hardly draw a stick man!
Reason 10) Dayton can't hold a pencil or crayon properly in his hand. His fine motor skills are lacking.
Big Momma's denial or lie: Ummmmm.... he's not quite two years old... Let's let the boy get some practice with this, shall we? Let's let him grow up a bit and then worry...
MATC and finally got a diagnosis within two observations of my boy... Very short observations revealed that Dayton in fact had PDD-NOS. Finally, got the diagnosis, two months before his eighth birthday. He was too old for ABA or Floor Time Therapies. Lola came on strong and made me feel like the world's worst mother. I'm gonna have to take Lola out back and shoot her.
So, for parents out there struggling with what professionals think of their kiddos, if some professional even whispers the word autism, LISTEN to them. Put down your pride, shut up, take whatever therapy they want your little one to take and like Nike says, JUST DO IT. A little play never hurt anyone, and if they're wrong, then all you've lost is a bit of time, during which your kiddo got to play with someone other than you. Big deal. But if they're right... You've offered everything you possibly can to your child. Don't let Lola into your life. Her craaaaazy!!!
Warning: denials and lying to yourself continues on way past the diagnosis... It's happening to me as we speak as I sit back and wonder if I've just grounded my boy for his disability or if he truly deserves it. Yup, Lola's sitting right beside me...
Consider yourselves hugged,