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Early Intervention

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Maybe it was the “Light it Up Blue” campaign shared by a friend that came across your Facebook feed.

Maybe it was the teenaged boy on the swings at your local playground who vocalized so loudly as he seemed to climb perilously close to the sky.

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Maybe it was the girl in the movie theater who rocked back and forth one row behind you in the movie theater last weekend.

Maybe it was your growing suspicion that your child is on the autism spectrum too that is making you think about seeking help.

As a veteran mom with two boys on the spectrum all I can say is listen to your instincts, and make those calls.

My eldest son was diagnosed at seventeen months, which was considered to be very early back in 2004. Quite honestly he could have been diagnosed earlier if our pediatrician didn’t take a “wait-and-see” approach, claiming he was following in his father’s footsteps with his lateness to talk. Still, seventeen months was a gift, and unbelievably we were able to get an appointment with a developmental pediatrician four weeks after a devastating pediatrician’s appointment where my son’s doctor thrust a bunch of mismatched articles with “autism” in the title, basically shoved us out the door, and wished us luck.

No points for compassion awarded there.

My husband and I were able to put a program in place for him within a month of that terrible day. Unfortunately Virginia’s idea of Early Intervention at that time (and still could be now) was to show up a few times a month, “train” me, and let me get on with it. Being a former teacher (albeit one who had taught mostly neurotypical fifth graders) was an invaluable asset in cobbling together a small team of therapists plus me to conduct thirty-five to forty hours of ABA monthly. We were able to work a great deal with him at a very tender age, and I truly believe those early years of therapy prior to starting school at three-and-a-half were instrumental in helping ready him for the structure and rules of acquiring an education, imperative in opening him up to the possibility of learning skills.

After my second son’s regression at eighteen months we were living in New Jersey, where Early Intervention’s approach is totally different. We were able to get thirty-five hours weekly from two different agencies, and took a less structured road with my youngest. He had a year-and-a-half of therapy prior to entering school, and although it was difficult for him at first he acclimated quickly, which I strongly believe was due to the instruction he received as a toddler.

Yes, the theme here is get help as early as you can.

The truth is once you’ve made that leap to get your child evaluated it may take months to get an appointment with a good developmental pediatrician. It will definitely take a few months to get your child evaluated and started on therapies through Early Intervention.

If you have even the slightest doubt that something is different from the norm about your child’s development, make those calls as soon as you can.

I know it made a difference in my sons’ lives. My eldest still resides on the more severe end of the spectrum, and also has OCD, tic disorder, and intellectual disability. Despite all these challenges he remains one of the happiest kids I know.

My youngest has more of a “traditional” life, complete with mainstreaming in school, friends, and many different activities. He too is happy with who he is, and loves his life.

If you have the slightest concern about your child’s development, seek help as soon as you can. I know it made a difference in my sons’ lives, and the lives of many other children on the spectrum. Controversies may rage forever about different autism treatments, but one seems to remain unscathed- early intervention.

Make the calls.

Ask people for support.

And while you’re dealing with all of that, make sure you take care of yourself too.

For more on my family visit my blog at autismmommytherapist.wordpress.com

Follow me on Facebook at Autism Mommy-Therapist