Friday, July 20, 2012

My daughter recently informed me that Jason eats his toast upside down. While this seemed a bit odd, she decided that this made a lot of sense, as this would allow more of whatever is on top of the toast to hit your tastebuds,therefore allowing you to enjoy more of the flavor. This is how I have decided to look at Jason's new diagnosis of Autism. He is still the same wonderful, loving boy he has always been; he just looks at things in a different way. And, like eating toast upside down, he might have a lot to teach us about life. Jason came to us at 22 months from Taiwan. He bonded with us immediately, and has always been very affectionate. For a very long time we thought that his speech delays were due to the fact that he had been uprooted from his native country as a toddler. Other people who had adopted infants from Taiwan now had toddlers who were speaking in complete sentences. However, there were others who had adopted older children internationally who seemed to pick up the language quickly as well. We then learned about a special-ed preschool program through the public school system that would help him with his delays while he was also getting socialization. It took him five months to get into the program because of all of the testing required ahead of time to get his IEP (Individualized Education Program). This plan, however, will follow him throughout his school years, changing as needed, to allow him all of the special help he needs for his delays. At the end of his few months in preschool, the teacher and speech therapist met with us and told us that they suspected he might have autism. I was surprised, but then again not, to hear this. We had taken him to weekly sessions of private speech lessons, which without any extra therapy, weren't helping him to learn to communicate. Our family doctor had also mentioned that she thought he might have some neurodevelopmental delays. His lack of communication and eye contact, his repetitive speech and fixations, as well as his lack socialization skills were all starting to make sense. We took him to the University of Washington Autism Center, where we had him tested for Autism. He was given a diagnosis of Mild to Moderate Autism. (We asked about why he wasn't considered high-functioning or Asperger's but we were told he falls bellow standard in cognitive, verbal, motor and social skills.) It was recommended that we seek therapy for him in ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) Therapy, as well as speech therapy. Unfortunately, our insurance doesn't cover ABA Therapy, but we are looking into other options, and I am signed up to do a three day "bootcamp" to train in ABA therapy myself. We are now trying to educate ourselves about Autism, seek help for direction in his therapy, and meet others who have had similar experiences. I am looking forward to discovering what advances Jason might make in the years to come.

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