Imagine thinking that you were going to have a difficult time getting pregnant, or even thinking you could not get pregnant. Now imagine a crowded street, where the vendors’ food made my stomach twist and so emotional, that I ran to the hospital hoping I was sick but secretly hoping I was pregnant. I had miscarried, and I believe that I felt my very first heart break, right there on the hospital bed. While my neighbor on the other side of the room told me that I was young and it will be okay. As I lay there in despair, all I thought was MY BABY was not okay.
At 5 weeks, she had died and so my thought process stood the same, I could not get pregnant or hold my baby to term. I was 26 years old in October of the year 2012.
Not two months went by and I was extremely fatigue, all the time. I was not emotional as I was before, so I took the time and waited just a bit. When I two ClearBlue Rapid Detection Pregnancy Test (it had two inside each box), I waited til the morning to take them.
IT SAID POSITIVE, all four times. I did not know how I felt or what I should do. I do know that I was TERRIFIED. The father also had mixed emotions, but I just lost one and I was not going to give my gift up. I threw out my cigarettes and I went to work knowing that as soon as I could, I was going to see a doctor, because I KNEW my baby was okay this time.
I did not know that my son was going to be a child with autism and there are no tests to determine that before delievery. What I would love to do is explore and share my experiences with you. To show you how different and difficult it has been, but to also show the beauty and wonder of it all. Autism is a Challenge but it does not have to be the last defining factor.
The Beginning Of A New Beginning
When my son was almost two years old, he stopped building his vocabulary. Phases and words he has spoke before just cease to exist. They were simply gone as if he had never uttered them. He became less responsive, made less eye contact, and started exhibiting reclusive behaviors. I am going to be honest, other than the language factor, I did not know about the other behaviors and how they linked to any disability. I do not think many first mother can and I hope to build that awareness, even if it is just for one person.
At first, I thought it must be a phase; that he would snap out of it and everything would just go right back on track! I thought that we would pick up where we left off. I was so wrong because a week turned to months and I slowly came to realize that it was not a phase and I had to listen to his awesome pediatrician, who was pushing me every doctor visit to help with Early Intervention. At first, I resisted, it took a long time to come to terms with just the possibility that this was real and by then I was so very alone.
As the months passed by, I had to heed the advice of his doctor. He was not improving and I just gave up on the notion that nothing was wrong. I slowly came to the realization that my baby boy will have more disadvantages than the quote, unquote ‘norm’ and I pulled myself out from my denial that was built upon despair.
Every which way I moved left me feeling lost and questioning everything I did.
*Was I a good mom?
* Why did this have to happen to MY BABY?
* Why does my baby have to suffer?
Why this? Why that? I could go on about questions blowing a hole in my brain, but of course were no answers to any of the questions I had. So after I pulled myself from the depths of my despair, I braced myself, smile, and went with the flow. I took the referring paperwork given to me by his doctor and waited for that phone call.
All I know was that my baby will have it all. It did not matter how much blood, tears, or sweat came from my body. It did not matter if I had to fight everyone and anyone. That was when I realized the full extent of a mother’s love and support. With my sleeves rolled up and a start of a PLAN, I took his doctors advice and took him to Early Intervention.
Early Intervention is a program that helps young children from birth to 3 years old, who are not learning, growing, playing, walking, or talking like the other children their age. Working with your family or guardians, they set meaningful goals for your child and create a service plan to help your child and family, meet those goals.
Steps In The Early Intervenion Process
*Identification or Referral:
Parent can refer their children for Early Intervention (EI), or a professional, like a pediatrician, may identify them as requiring services through Child Find. Contact your state’s EI program or early childhood disability services program, as not all states uses the term ‘early intervention’.
Tell an EI representative that you wish to refer your child for services. The EI representative may ask you questions about your child’s development. The representative, by law, must refer or decline your child for an evaluation within two days of your phone call.
*Parental Consent Is Needed:
As a parent or guardian, a written consent to conduct evaluations and services are need. If there is any chance you wish to withdraw your consent, you can at any time.
As a parent, you must grant written consent for evaluations and services. At any time, you may withdraw this consent.
A team of qualified professionals will perform evaluations on your child. The evaluation team might consist of a neurologist, psychologist, physical therapist (PT), occupational therapist (OT), speech-language pathologist (SLP) or any other professional depending on the concerns of your child.
These professional are geared for working in these sensitive times, so do not worry if you think your child will undergo a variety of stressful tests. As it is a family-based approach, the professionals may ask to speak to you or family members with their permission.
As a mother, I was very impressed with how smoothly this step is. For the most part they observed and played with your child and evaluated during this time.
*Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)
If the evaluations determine that your child is eligible for services, you will meet with an Indiviualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) team. The IFSP is a written document that outlines your child areas of concern and detail services that your entire family can receive. It also gives your child goals for their development. You are part of the team of professionals and you will help develop the IFSP and your input is highly valued and impactful.
The IFSP must be reviewed every six months to make any changes if needed. You may request an addition review when ever you feel the need to.
This stage begins before your child third birthday. The team may determine whether your child no longer needs these services. If your child must continue these services, then they will transition from IFSP to an individualized education programs (IEP) when they reach the age of three.
Even if I wanted to, I would not change my son for the world! Truth be told, it can be the most heartbreaking experience in a mother’s life and yet I can not think of Zach being any other way.
So do not be afraid of the unknown. Embrace it and know that you are NOT ALONE. Yes, your journey becomes more complicated and difficult and not many people you know or understand how hard this is going to be, but it will be okay. They are beautiful and WORTH it, so love them like they deserve and watch them FLOURISH!
***Please leave a comment and let’s start a discussion! Do you have any questions or concerns, would you like to add on to anything I wrote? Well then please, drop a line or two!!!
WITH MUCH LOVE