Why I Walk for Autism Speaks
On June 20, 2016 my son Thomas was born and that was the best birthday gift I have ever received! He was the happiest baby and he brought a smile to everyone he ever met. He just had the best little personality and was so well behaved (he was sleeping through the night at a month old). I enjoyed every moment of being a stay at home mom watching him learn and grow, however there were times that were tough to deal with. At only three months old, Thomas got his first ear infection. It is the worst feeling as a mother to see your child in pain and you cannot help them. For the next few months he would get ear infections every other week so we were referred to an ENT Specialist. The ENT doctor told us the best course of action would be to get ear tubes around his first birthday. The tubes were put it and we noticed a huge improvement in his health. For the next year we had frequent visits with the ENT to check his progress as well as performing hearing tests. Closer to Thomas's second birthday the ENT asked us about his speech. We explained he said the usual mama and dada but nothing else above and beyond that. The ENT showed some concern with his speech and referred us to Early Internvention.
Our next step was to contact the local Early Intervention team, Kennedy Donovan Center in Attleboro, MA, to set up an evaluation. About a week after Thomas's second birthday a team of therapists came out to our home to evaluate Thomas and it was discovered not only was his speech delayed, but he also was delayed in all other aspects of development. I was shocked at the findings because I was not aware of all of the typical milestones a child should have at his age seeing as he was my first. The team devised a plan to help Thomas and that is when we met his therapist Liz. Liz has been a God send to us and has helped Thomas out in ways we will never be able to thank her enough for. He would see Liz for an hour every week at the center, still to this day, and he would really look forward to her visits. A few months after starting with Liz, a new therapist was added to his plan for that he received therapy two days a week. In only a few short months at the KDC it was brought to our attention that we should consider the possibility of autism. I, as I am sure with everyone else, have heard of autism but was not exactly sure what is was. We were given some basic information on the subject and was told to find a local medical center who performs autism assessments.
This is where Thomas's autism story really begins. In the Fall of 2018 we chose Boston Medical Center to get Thomas his evaluation. We had the initial consultation where we got to meet with the developmental doctor who would be performing the test and explain our concerns. After about an hour we were told there was quite a long waitlist for the assessment and it might not be until May before we can get him evaluated. Well a miracle happened a few shorts days later when his doctor called me late at night explaining there was a last minute cancellation and if wanted it we could have Thomas seen the next day! Of course we jumped on this opportunity and drove into Boston the next day for his assessment. A week after the assessment, December 6, 2018, we were told our son had moderate to severe autism.
When we were told Thomas had autism I was not shocked and expected there to be a positive result while his father took it pretty hard. Knowing your child has special needs that there is no cure for is a hard thing to deal with because you only want what is best for them. There was so much information thrown at us all at once that we really needed to take a few days to process it all before taking the next step. Now that we had the diagnosis it was time to pick an ABA provider. We chose Beacon out of Milford, MA and have not been disappointed. We were able to start services shortly after Christmas and in just a few short months have seen a vast improvement in Thomas's speech! He repeats everything now and has really built up with vocabulary. He receives about 12 hours of ABA therapy a week and will be adding more hours very soon! Since he will not be 3 until June we also are still able to receive Early Intervention twice a week as well.
This past year has definitely been wild and crazy, but in the best way possible. Thomas has received so much support in this journey and will only continue to grow. We have been in contact with our local Early Learning Center where Thomas will begin preschool this Fall! I cannot believe my baby is starting school! On top of all these assessments and therapy appointments I am also expecting a new little boy coming May 12, 2019 to join our busy family. I cannot thank everyone enough for their ongoing support and much needed motivation. This year will be my first year walking for Autism Speaks and I cannot be any more excited! I want to walk to give a voice to those who can't for themselves. I want to walk to raise awareness of this disease and hope one day there will be a cure. I want to walk to help all of those families who struggle to get their child the services they desperately need to see their child succeed. Most importantly I want to walk to educate people that autism comes in many shapes and sizes; there is no one size fits all. Autism is not a dead end but a mere speed bump in life. We just need to slow down, proceed with caution, and take it one day at a time.
I earned my Walk Tee Shirt!
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