This Child of Mine Part 2
What I've Learned from an Autism Diagnosis
It took months. Well, years, really. I knew something was off way before we received her diagnosis. She just wasn't as "normal" as other kids her age. Her speech was delayed (as I've stated in Part 1), she wouldn't make eye contact with me, or respond to her name. Something was just... off.
I am thankful that I live in Minnesota. There are so many programs in the state to help with autism. Maybe too many. The best advice I've received, so far, was to take her to Fraser. Fraser is an organization that is dedicated to identifying and helping children and adults with autism. Once we were able to get her in for an evaluation, which took weeks, I was glad we were about to get a diagnosis. I have to tell you though. I HATE PAPERWORK, and there was a lot of paperwork.
The waitlist for therapy can be long, but we were lucky. We got into Day Treatment after only two weeks of waiting. (We were told it could take one to two years!) Velisity LOVES Day Treatment, and they're so good to her. She gets the help she needs, and I get the break that I need. Her day treatment lasts three hours a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year. As I said before, I'm thrilled with the break for me.
I think the best thing that I've discovered since my daughter's diagnosis is how large the online community is. There are dozens of Facebook groups dedicated to autism support. It's where I can go to express my frustrations, show off my baby's triumphs, and look for advice. My favorites include Autism Parent Support Group and Prior Lake/Savage Autism/Asperger's Support Group.
The best thing I've learned in the last couple months is that autism is NOT bad. It's NOT scary or a disease. There's nothing wrong with someone who has autism. They are all beautiful human beings who deserve kindness and understanding. I've also learned that they don't get ENOUGH kindness and understanding. I've witnessed this myself a few times already, and it brings me to tears.
My daughter is unique in her own way. She's smart, funny, silly, and she loves to dance. Sure, she has her moments. Sometimes when she gets mad at me she hits, but now that I know that she has autism, a whole new world of therapy has opened up to me. I now know ways to help her cope with all of the emotions running through her. I've just recently noticed that she loves to chew on things, and now I've found that there's an outlet for that as well. She LOVES her chewy, and it keeps her from putting things in her mouth that shouldn't be there. She takes it everywhere with her. We're definitely getting more.
Autism always has that stigmatism floating around it. That it's somehow evil and should be feared. That's wrong. Autism is beautiful. It's unique and something that should be loved, not feared. We need more advocates in the mainstream than we have now. There are good ones out there, but there should be a lot more. We need more education for it, for adults and for family members so they can understand.
Between taking her to preschool, speech therapy, and Day Treatment, we're a busy group. Everyday is a hassle. If I don't time it perfectly, I'll either be late dropping her off or late picking her up. Timing with an autistic toddler can be daunting if they end up having a tantrum. There have been times when it takes half an hour just to get her to put on some pants, and it takes hours to get her to go to bed at night. I'm habitually exhausted and depressed (we're very tight on money). So I spend my nightly hours doing everything I can. I read up on materials about autism, watch YouTube videos, try to make some extra cash filling out surveys, etc. I do whatever I can for my baby, and I know that my sleepless hours will be well worth it in the end. I have the support I need online. I couldn't ask for anything else.
Love your auties like I love mine!