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...