My Beautiful Son Has Autism
I have a beautiful baby boy named Jeremy. He's a special gift who looks perfect in every way. Although he was delivered normal, there were long hours in the labor and delivery room. After he was delivered, I was a happy mom who was excited to see my bundle of joy. I wanted to hold him, and the anticipation to go home with my beautiful newborn baby is unforgettable.
Days, weeks and months had gone by, and there seemed to be new changes that cannot be explained or ignored. I thought there were no worries at the beginning—only laughter and watching my child do different normal things.
Over time, the assumption becomes a reality when my baby turned eight months old. My beautiful baby boy was rocking on his hands and knees while watching television, and he seemed to have sleep deprivation. Still, I was in denial that something is different about my boy.
After my boy turned three-years-old I noticed a lot more. I was concerned that he wasn't saying a word. He wouldn't respond to his name or look at anyone when he's being spoken to. All he wanted to do was rock back and forth throughout the day.
I was curious about what is going on, and I was extremely anxious to ask a pediatrician about what I observed. So, I scheduled an appointment for him to get a physical and when it was time for the appointment the pediatrician spoke to me for a little while about any health concerns. I said he was fine physically, but I see that he rocks back and forth a lot. Anyway, the doctor decided to call his name and noticed that Jeremy was unaware that his name was being called, and he wasn't responding. I thought he was deaf, but after having a hearing test done the result showed that he wasn't deaf.
The doctor said there's a possibility that he had autism, so she said to expect to see a referral in the mail. He would need to be seen by another doctor at Boston Medical Center.
After receiving the referral at the time, I had no clue what autism was, I just knew something was wrong. Finally, the big day arrived to know the truth after a month. When I got to the hospital, the truth was revealed. After the doctors observed the mysterious behavior for a little while, a different doctor came in the room to speak to me.
I didn't know what to expect to hear and a part of me felt like I didn't want to know anything. When I found out, it was like hearing a shattered glass that fell on the floor. Surprisingly, doctors concluded that my son was diagnosed with autism; I was told in August 2006.
My Son Is Severely Autistic
Jeremy is fourteen-years-old now, and he goes to a school that has an autism program. He loves going to school every day without giving me any difficulties to go. He's trained to understand his daily routine and to do what he has to do. He has a team of professional teachers and doctors, but a few of the doctors were there after the diagnosis. It's important for me to update new doctors about any new changes that concern me. Over the years he had in-home services after finding out about autism early. My son has a phenomenal medical team of doctors and nurses who work at Boston Children's Hospital.
Even though he's considered having severe autism on the spectrum, and there are more questions that aren't answered, I accept how he is. He will continue to rock back and forth, and he doesn't speak at all. Although, I've been speaking English to him since he was little. He understands what I'm saying and he will follow directions most of the time. Unless he is trying to be playful or he's going through something I will have to figure out.
Watching the things, it can be complicated sometimes when trying to understand the mystery of my son's autism behaviors. Yet, if he's happy then no one will make a big deal.
Even though, they don't know why he rocks back and forth and why he doesn't speak and why he enjoys being repetitive all the time. As he's gotten older, I've seen additional behaviors that aren't understood. Such as playing with water a lot at the kitchen sink or placing things in perfect order when there out of place.
I will talk to the doctors about what I've noticed that can help them to figure out what certain behaviors meant to me. Unless it's urgent everyone knows that's just a part of his autism behaviors. If there are complicated difficulties, then I will inform hispediatrician, neurologist, and special education teachers because there interested in knowing what he's like at home.
What an Autistic Teenager Needs
Often, only his family and I can try to figure out what he wants or need right away after watching him at home. I know when he's hungry or when he needs to go to the bathroom. Also, when he's bothered by something, that causes him to become aggressive sometimes. I always stay calm no matter what he’s going through and I talk to him to help him to calm down.
When he wants something, he points to his nose and when I'm correct about what he wants, then he points to his nose once again. He doesn't use pictures at home because I know what he wants when he points or taps his nose or when he brings what he wants to me. Also, his special education teachers have pictures at school to understand him better. They'll prepare a daily structured filled day to meet his needs.
In addition, when he's at school the teachers would tell me that he doesn't like the school lunch. So, I would cook at home in the morning and after school. Usually, a lot of foods that most kids will like, my son wouldn't eat it. I send him to school with his own snacks, but he will separate the food on different plates because that’s the only way he will eat the food. For instance, he doesn't like to combine cereal and milk together in the same bowl or he would eat the bread separately from the peanut butter and jelly.
An Autistic Teenager
Furthermore, he will also hide important things like keys and shoes in different places when he's bored. Only he will know where it is and I will come across the things he hides that are placed in areas I least expect. For instance, in the refrigerator or behind the couch cushion or in the bathroom.
To keep him busy at home, I give him his cell phone. He loves technical devices, an iPad and a modern television that has YouTube. When the television is on, he’ll point to what he would like to watch. If I’m right he’ll tap once on the tip of his nose and he does this for most of the things he wants. He is an intelligent boy who has a great memory. He can remember where I put things that I don’t want him to play with, but he will find it when I thought he wasn’t watching, he's good at observing what people do too.
The other thing he loves to do is going outside in the summer, and sometimes he will try to go outdoors on his own. I’ll see him getting dressed to go out without my permission. So, I would get ready to take him out because I don’t want him to roam around in the street alone.
Meanwhile, when he's walking down the street, he will find a store he seen before and will go in to get his favorite snacks, which is chip ahoys and granola bars. After I pay for what he wanted, I'll redirect him back home with the help of a family member.
Autism Summer Programs
Usually, in the summer I have to keep him busy because he can regress if he isn't in an autism summer program. The program starts from the beginning of July to August. He loves the summer activities and staying busy is fun to him. He’s happy all the time as long as his needs are being met, but if it isn't, then he would make certain sounds that aren't easy to comprehend unless being observe.
Only observation can allow a person to know that something is wrong or he needs something done immediately. The challenge for everyone involved is to figure out what that problem is. Whatever I see at home the teachers will see at school. As long as everyone communicates about what has to be done, then there’s a better chance we'll know what he needs.
If there are complicated issues that aren't fully understood. I would go to a special education meeting at the school to talk about his progress. Everyone involved wants to educate him and to continue to see him happy.
Services for an Autistic Teenager
Medical Doctors and Dentists
He has a pediatrician and a neurologist for follow-up appointments. The doctors will speak to me about any difficulties or any additional services my son needs. Such as the dental team that specializes in doing dental work for autistic children and teenagers.
Sometimes, he doesn't cooperate to have the dentist look at his teeth at a regular dentist, but I'm glad he doesn't have cavities. It will be a complicated issue if he does go through pain with his teeth. No one will know what is causing the frustration until an examination. Therefore, it's important for me to keep his teeth free of cavities. Many parents have a choice to have the dentist to go to the school.
Another service that's important is PCA Services, and I chose his older brother who connects with him very well to help in this area. His brother is the Personal Care Attendant, I hired his brother because sometimes I will have difficulties to get him to cooperate to keep up with grooming. So, we teach him the importance to have good hygiene from head to toe and he is doing better at learning that he has to be clean every day.
Special Education Teachers and Applied Behavior Analysis Services
Furthermore, the special education teachers at school will offer ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) services at school or at home. The trained professionals will help improve certain behaviors, so he can follow structured directions daily.
The ABA services help a lot because he wouldn't follow directions before, but I see the difference now when I take him out. Also, when he goes out on field trips with the teachers in the spring and summer, he will have to be watched closely because of roaming around. Often, male teachers are more involved, due to his unpredictable aggressive behavior that can get out of control sometimes. Usually, his aggression is experienced indoors not outdoors.
My Autistic Son Loves Going Out
Surprisingly, when I take him out in public sometimes, it isn't easy for people staring at his behavior. A lot of people aren't educated enough about autistic people. My son will make loud sounds that people don't like hearing and they'll watch him rock back and forth.
People would ask questions that I'm not prepared to answer. Is your son autistic? Is it challenging taking care of a boy like that? Did you do something to cause his autism? I'll say, my son is autistic and is developmentally delayed.
Afterwards, the person will walk away without saying a word, people would still continue to stare. I'll go through this when waiting for his school bus or when I take public transportation to go to his appointments. I used to get upset about people's reactions, but I don't anymore. I feel he deserves to go out to see what's going on in the city of Boston, just like everyone else and looking around is fun for him too.
He needs to see what is going on in the world around him. He is going to be an adult someday to be directed to understand independent living, so I teach him a little of everything.
Especially, he will need to learn more after high school, so there are additional services the teachers will let me know about before he graduates high school. There's a lot of support out there for my son and for parents who want to know more about the support they need for someone in their family who is autistic.
All I know for sure is that Jeremy needs me to be there for him no matter what. I cannot be depressed about my son's diagnoses; I love him and I accept him for being the individual he is.
10 Autism Tips for Parents
- Always be involved with the medical professional and special education teachers.
- Always find the best support services.
- Parents will need a break sometimes and respite is helpful.
- Get early intervention services if there is a possibility that your child has autism.
- Parents need to be an expert about what can help doctors and teachers.
- Have the patience to understand complicated behaviors.
- Having the same structured routine is important for someone autistic.
- Parents speak to your nonverbal autistic child every day.
- Always go to the IEP ( Individual Education Program) meetings to add important information in the IEP documents about your child or teenager.
- Communicate with everyone involved as much as possible. Also, ask for a copy of important documentation for future references.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2020 Jacqueline L Smith