Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Autism Filter: Part I

When I first heard the "A" word, I didn't quite understand it. I wasn't ready for it. I was still blind. From the time Sienna was a baby, I just thought I was a klutz of a mom. I just didn't have a motherly instinct and felt so much rejection from my first born.
The pictures below capture a typical struggle of me wanting to show affection to my daughter. These photos were taken on mother's day.

The day care teachers and directors first started to suggest to me that I get an assessment from a professional. They said that Sienna, "had trouble with transitions and was a little aggressive with care takers and her peers." She threw tantrums a lot, but I just thought we were still in the "terrible twos." She also didn't speak until the age of three and I blamed this on the two non-English speaking nannies that we had when she was an infant. More about the blame of the nannies for a later post...

So, from ages two until five, I started to focus in on what it meant for a toddler to have difficulties with transitions. I started to become more in tuned to the noises and the bright lights and the crowds that were igniting these tantrums. I found a book on the shelf at a Christian book store, "Out of Sync Child." As I read the jacket cover, tears swelled my eyes. I started reading the book with a highlighter and would read excerpts of how it related to us to my husband daily. We both agreed that Sienna was out of sync. But what now?

The school system at this time was so supportive. They spoon-fed me and held my hand. I will never forget the day I had to sign my first IEP that would give permission to let a bus pick up Sienna from the private preschool and take her to the half day of special services for her. It was a short bus. I used to make jokes about riding in a short bus. Now, the curly blonde little girl, the first child born in this generation on all sides of our family, the one who is so stunningly adorable even strangers stopped us in public to tell us she should be a model was now going to be riding the short bus.

One more year until she starts Kindergarten. She really hasn't started her school career yet I thought. I told myself, "No harm done... if these professionals can help her with her tantrums and transition difficulty, then she will be mainstreamed for Kindergarten when all the other kids in the neighborhood start and we can put all this behind us." Whew. And, that was that. Or was it?

More about how Autism changed our view and blurred our vision for our future in future posts...





9 comments:

Aleash said...

What a touching story...or beginning of one, rather. I hope that kindergarten and future grades continue the same level of support. I've found (as a parent with a child that has an IEP) that you MUST advocate for your child at all times, and even rough beginnings can have the happiest of endings. My district has made leaps and bounds from kindergarten til 8th grade. Without constant communication, support, and mutual respect, we never would have come so far. Clearly, you are a Mom that will make the difference for your child. There are also lots of support sites out there, which I have found huge comfort, ideas, and sanity in...especially during trying moments where it feels like no one understands.

autismfamily said...

Nice pics of you too. I remember both kids first IEPs, so many district people in suits. I don't understand the stigma of the short bus. Maybe since we are in the city and not the suburbs it is not like that. Well my kids never took the bus until this week and Matt is 12. I thought it would be a small bus but it is a medium sized one. Glad to know that the preschool workers noticed the signs and got you some assistance. Out of sync child book is great, I have the fun book now and two sensory DVDs I got on amazon that I plan to watch and review soon. Looking forward to the continued posts in this A series.

Tammy Warren said...

I wanted to share with you that my son, who does not have autism, has a best friend that does. The child does very well at school. He did have an assistant for two years. Now, in the 2nd grade he has a part time helper that comes into the classroom.

She will be fine with support and love.

mrsbear said...

I look forward to reading more of your story.

lonestar818 said...

((hugs)) I can totally relate to feeling like "a klutz of a mom." Even when my twins were babies, I can remember times when they'd be screaming and when I picked them up there was either no change or the screaming sometimes even got worse. I had no idea they had autism or sensory issues, and when I tried the "typical" stuff to calm them down it often didn't help. It's hard, especially when you're a first-time mom.

"The Out of Sync Child" is an awesome book, reading that was like someone turning on the lights in a dark room, suddenly things started to make sense!

I look forward to reading more of your story...

Daisy said...

My sympathies to you, and wishes of good luck, too. My son's diagnosis of Asperger's was difficult because the school district resisted the referral. We pushed for three years, did our own research, and presented it to the school folks before they'd even do an eval. Since then, I've made a handful of autism referrals from my own classes, and I've never been wrong yet.

Helene said...

It sounds like your daughter is receiving wonderful services through the school and I'm happy to hear that they are working with you as well to help her transition.

Caroline said...

Your story is so clearly from the heart. I am looking forward to reading more. You sound like an amazing mom. I love the pics too.

hellokittiemama said...

:) just keep doing the great job you are doing - sounds like you are in a pretty good district some are not so cooperative!

blog on!

~MT
ps. added you on my blogroll!