Braiden was always delayed in reaching his developmental milestones.
For the first 2 years of Braiden’s life I was not concerned at all, knowing that all children are different and learn at their own pace.
At his 2 year old check up I brought up my speech concern to his pediatrician, she asked me a few questions about his development, a couple of questions that I remember clearly were, does he line up toys? Does he stack up blocks? I responded no and no.
His pediatrician was not concerned and she told me that she would refer him to a Speech therapist. That same week Braiden’s Day care provider shared a couple of concerns, one of them was that Braiden did not play with other children, he played next to them but not with them, Braiden did not respond to his name when called. Braiden did not follow directions as well as other children and again she mentioned the speech delay. Expressing my concerns to my mother and a couple of friends their response was, “He is fine there is nothing wrong with him” “your father didn’t speak until he was 4 years old”. Even after the pediatrician’s lack of concern and the words of encouragement that I received from my family, my maternal instinct told me that there was something different about him. I mentioned to a coworker that I needed to find a Speech therapist for my son, and she gave me the telephone number to Project GROW ECI, her child had been enrolled in the program and she had seen great improvement in her speech. I called ECI and had Braiden assessed and he qualified for services, at the same time I dedicated myself to researching about speech delays and I found some very helpful information on the web. As I kept on reading on one of the websites that I found I saw the word “Autism” I knew nothing about Autism and it had never crossed my mind that Braiden could Autism. As I kept reading about possible red flags I started checking off all the ones that Braiden displayed. I always thought that his twirling, hand flapping and toe walking were so cute and it never dawned on me that he was Autistic. When I came to terms with the realization that he might have autism, I cried for days, I started mourning the child that I had lost to Autism. In the back of my mind all the hopes and dreams that I had for him were gone. With ECI Braiden made tremendous improvement by the time he turned 3 years old he graduated and moved on to the school district for services. I had a great service coordinator that help me set up services for Braiden after he turned three years old and helped me with resources in my community. She helped me set up an appointment with Texana Center’s Psychologist to obtain an official diagnosis. Braiden was diagnosed with Autism in July of 2010. As soon as I heard about Texana’s Children Center for Autism, I put him on the waiting list, and let me tell you, it was worth the wait! Now Braiden is verbal, enjoys participating in church, and follows directions. He makes great eye contact and loves to pretend play. I love to talk to him and hold a conversation with him, which is something that I thought I would never be able to do. I tell him that I am very proud of him and he replies” I am very proud of you too mommy”. Braiden gets very excited to attend birthday parties and have play dates with his friends, he loves trick or treating and taking part in community activities. The hopes and dreams that were once gone are now back.
We continue to battle Autism and we take it one day at a time. Today he needs help with fine motor skills, language comprehension, and sensory problems.Tomorrow it will be something else.
Never the less we have been very blessed and we give thanks to the Lord for giving us strength and wisdom to accept things that we cannot change.