Becoming a parent, you always want the best for your children. From the day Mason was born, my husband and I have always made sure to show him the love and attention he needs to thrive in this world. He was always early in milestones. Rolled over early, crawled early, took his 1st steps when he was nine months old, the list goes on and on. When he was approaching two years old and we realized he wasn’t really talking like other children we know, we became concerned. This began the journey of wanting to get clarity and peace of mind.
When Mason was a year old, I remember him loving to be around other children, and he was the most social and friendly child. We were blessed to be able to keep Mason at home since we had live in help with his grandmother living with us. Mason was supposed to start daycare/school when he turned two, but the pandemic happened and put a pause on that. I thought that would be his opportunity to be social and learn with other children. He did not start daycare/school until his 3rd birthday. The transition was a little rough, but he eventually got to a place of no tears at dropoff. While it was good to see him warming up to others outside of his home, we also noticed that he wasn’t hitting milestones that he should. These are the things that led us to want to seek an evaluation for Autism. Let’s get into it.
Mason would keep to himself at school. The school has cameras, and every time we observed, the children would all be doing one thing, and Mason would be off to the side in his own world. Even when learning time is happening, he is easily distracted and needing to be with the teacher assistant to sit still. Originally, I thought it was because Mason knows everything they are learning. He went to school already knowing his ABCs, counting to 30, colors of the rainbow, and shapes. He was placed in the 2 year old/early 3 year old class because he wasn’t potty trained. That is still a work in progress as well. But after six months of him not warming up to his classmates, it raised concerns.
Mason is a technology kid. He loves his YouTube and his iPad. He has learned so much from watching educational channels. He knows words, phrases, and can make commands for things he wants such as “I want juice. I want cereal. I want yogurt. Come on Mommy/Daddy. Come here. I want to go outside.” The piece that was and is still missing for Mason is dialogue. He cannot have a conversation. He cant form thoughts to respond verbally. So while he can tell you everything on his plate for breakfast, when you ask him what did you eat for breakfast, he cannot respond correctly. He will just respond with a word or phrase he knows or has memorized. That raised concerns.
When Mason cannot articulate his emotions or thoughts, he flaps his hand and yells while stomping in place or running. We thought he was just frustrated cause he cannot talk, but we later learned that this is a form of stimming. Stimming is an autistic behavior. Stimming is repetitive or unusual movements or noises. It seems to help some autistic children and teenagers manage emotions and cope with overwhelming situations.
Back in November, we began speech therapy in hopes that it would help Mason begin to talk. His speech therapists encouraged us to have him evaluated for Autism as well, but with me being pregnant and preparing to give birth in December, I decided to put it on my to do list post delivery. I could only tackle so much being 38+ weeks pregnant then being home with a newborn. We finally scheduled him an evaluation with InBloom Autism Services after getting a referral from Mason’s pediatrician. It was a 3 hour observation that we were allowed to observe, but we could not participate.
When going over the results, the psychiatrist mentioned that Mason reminds her of Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder, is a developmental disorder. Young people with Asperger’s Syndrome have a difficult time relating to others socially and their behavior and thinking patterns can be rigid and repetitive. Mason is very repetitive and if you change his routine, he is not a happy camper. He also repeats phrases and words over and over while playing. He is high functioning and considered Level 1/Level 2 on the spectrum. It is mainly social behaviors that he identifies with on the spectrum, so our biggest area that needs improvement is making him more functional in a social environment. Talking or expressing thoughts and being able to coexist with others without being disruptive with stimming. We have no worry about his learning capability because Mason is smart as a whip! He can count backwards and forwards, say his ABCs backwards and forwards, and he can already read. He never ceases to amaze me when we go over his flashcards and what not at home.
If your child is showing any of these signs or areas of concern, the sooner you can get them evaluated and diagnosed, the better. Early diagnosis is key to getting them ahead of the curve and on the right track for school. We are navigating resources and ABA therapy for Mason now as we plan to aggressively get him the care he needs now so that he can possibly go to PreK and Kindergarten ready to tackle the world! We know this journey may not be easy at times and we are learning to be patient with Mason with each passing day. Stay tuned as I learn new things because I plan to keep on sharing them here so that others can benefit from my experience.