I hope you all are having a great holiday! I first want to apologize for the delay of this blog post. This post will be all about my favorite 3 1/2 year old Riley; aka Riley Boy!
Something’s going on!
When Riley was around 1 1/2 I began noticing that he didn’t use as many words as my daughter did by his age. I expressed my concerns to my family and even his pediatrician. Everyone gave me the response that literally makes me cringe; “It’s probably nothing”. This is the same thing the doctors told me when I found a lump in my breast at age 25 that turned out to be triple negative breast cancer. That’s a story I will also share in the near future. However, you can see why these statements didn’t ease my mind.
It doesn’t help that my family thinks of me as always fearing the worst. Again, my personal history may be a valid reason. One family member told me “I don’t want him to have a label”. My response; I don’t care about a label, I care about him getting the help he needs. My family meant will and truly didn’t have any concerns about my sons development. In all honesty I wanted to be wrong; hell I’d rather be crazy than correct. However, I couldn’t completely shake the feeling that something was going on.
Loss of words.
Also around age 1 1/2 Riley could and would say hello to everyone. When asked, “How are you”; he would respond, “Good”. However, around 2 he was no longer saying any of this. We would call his name and it was like he was ignoring us or just couldn’t hear. He would rewind videos on his tablet over and over again to a certain part. He wouldn’t answer question but repeat the question. If allowed he could stand in front of the mirror for hours acting out scenes from his favorite cartoons. He could do the exact moment with ever word.
Also, his tantrums were over the top. I mean banging his head on the floor. My family wanted to get him a helmet. However; it became an argument between my husband and I. My husband believed that a helmet would make reinforce his head banging. Meanwhile, I didn’t know what the heck to do. So like most people I went to Dr. Google. I researched the signs of autism, I looked for peer reviewed articles. I also spoke with his preschool teacher and administrator. They suggested contacting the Frank D Lanterman Regional Center here in Los Angeles, CA.
Help at last!
After playing phone tag for a few weeks; eventually, we were able to get an appointment and see a psychologist. The outcome of the appointment was that my son didn’t have enough signs and/or symptoms to be diagnosed with autism. However, my son did qualify for speech therapy (ST/SLP), occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT), through the regional centers Early Intervention Program. Each discipline (ST/OT/PT) came to our home to do an evaluation. Based on the evaluations each discipline developed a treatment plan. Riley had ST and OT twice a week and OT once a week. The best thing about these services were that they worked with Riley at daycare and sometimes home if needed.
At age 3 my son graduated from the Early Intervention Program and was evaluated by our school district. The regional center case manager attended the evaluation with us. My husband and I had to fill out several forms as the team evaluated Riley while playing with toys.
The school district can not officially diagnose developmental disabilities; however my son was unofficially diagnosed with characteristics of autism. He was given an Individualized Education Program (IEP); with a treatment plan based on small short term goals. On the day after his 3rd birthday he started his special education program. He received OT, ST and applied behavior analysis (ABA) was added.
Although Riley was making much improvement with speech; his teacher was still concerned about his behaviors. She recommended contacting the regional center again for re-evaluation. I’ll be honest Riley had improved so much at home I forgot the teacher recommended a re-evaluation. However, at school and on the bus not so much.
Riley has Autism
A few weeks ago I called the regional center and requested a re-evaluation. By the grace of good we were able to get in within 2 weeks due to a cancellation. The psychologist told me she will have to write an official report, (we’re still waiting on the final evaluation); but she is pretty sure Riley has Autism.
This time I suspected this but it was still hard to heard. The blessing in this is that Riley will now qualify for additional services outside of school and get all of the support he needs. Early intervention is key in helping children with autism reach their full potential. Riley still has challenges but his progress is undeniable.
To be continued….
Next I will follow up with signs and symptoms of autism, important definitions and useful resources.