Guest Blogger: Claudia Jaramillo (my sister!!)
My son Steven was about 26 months of age when my Husband and I were told that he had characteristics of Autism. We were given a telephone number to an agency that would be able to give us more information, and we were told: “Oh by the way when you have a child with autism the siblings born after that child have a greater chance of being Autistic”. Talk about a double Wammy because we have a daughter who is a year and 7 months younger than Steven. After we left, it was something very difficult to face. My Husband was the one that took this the hardest. We got in a huge argument that day, he kept telling me ” that neurologist has no clue what he is talking about, there is nothing wrong with our son.” Deep inside I wanted to see things the way he did, but in reality I knew Steven was not developing like a typical 26 month old child. After two weeks of crying and hugging my child constantly and kissing him over and over again and blaming everyone for this and asking myself why me? I don’t smoke, use drugs, or drink why me? I decided to step up to the plate and see what I could do to help my child.
Steven was placed in a project able classroom. We started him on occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and ABA (applied behavioral analysis). It was not easy especially when you have two kiddos still on diapers, a 45 minute drive one way to go to his therapies twice a week . Negative feed back is what I received the most! I remember there were times that I would just cry on the drive home. I would just cry because of all the negative things the therapists told me after his session. ” oh he was unable to hand me the red ball and there was only a red ball and a blue ball on the table, Oh he had very poor eye contact, it was so hard for him to focus today.” So one day I lost hope on my child and I told myself maybe it is me the one that is not accepting that Steven can not handle all this. I was wrong and things were about to change.
A friend of mine called me and told me that there was this new consultant in town. She invited me to observe one of her son’s session with the consultant. Of course I was there the next day. It was all worth it. His name is Daniel. Meeting Daniel is the best thing that could ever happen to Steven and our family. When Daniel met Steven he told me that within one year Steven would add, subtract, communicate better, call me “mommy”, request his needs and more. I was like YEAH RIGHT!! WELL he was right.
Steven is now 7 years old and doing that and more!! He is also reading at a second grade level. He does ABA 20-25 hours a week and it’s not easy. We have someone at your home 3-4 hours daily, we hardly get family time, and he even does therapy on Saturdays. When we are invited to go somewhere we always work around his therapy. If a provider doesn’t show up that day I get to do therapy with Steven. You know it is not easy being a Mom with a child with Autism. Autism is on the rise and the community seems to think they know it all, or seem to be very ignorant when it comes to Autism. Well Autism is here!
Autism is not easy to detect and when people see me struggling with my child that is having a melt down, or I am trying to deal with my child at the grocery store because he just had a sensory overload. People are quick to give me parental advice. I have dealt with the “pity looks”.
My son has taught me one thing for sure, each milestone that he has accomplished for as little as it may be we celebrate it Big. Next time you see an Autistic Child just give us a pat on the back and say “Good Job” if nothing else. There is one thing I know for sure: I would not change my life at all, Steven has made me the mother I am. I have lots of hopes and dreams for him. One thing is for sure now and this is something Daniel taught me if any teacher, therapist or whomever it may be tells me that my Son can not learn then my response is nice and simple “Maybe it is time you change the way you teach.” Autism is an epidemic, and now one out of every 145 children being born is diagnosed with Autism. As Moms lets support one another and help one another!