I think I’ve always known, but just like most parents of neurodiverse kids, I went through a period of denial.
It took a while for us to get him evaluated for ASD because, aside from the crazy times of the pandemic and the overwhelming queue for assessment, Atlas doesn’t fit with our ‘common notion’ of how autism looks like.
He has eye contact
, responds when you call him, doesn’t line up toys, and has ‘great’ behaviour. However, he has a speech delay and echolalia
. He’s pretty fascinated with everything circular and has an exceptionally sharp memory of music, words, and numbers among other things.
Diagnosis with the Developmental Pediatrician
During his assessment last January, his Developmental Pediatrician, Dr Stella Manalo told me, “I think you know it already, you’re just waiting for a confirmation.”
And that she did. She confirmed that Atlas has Autism
. She called it high-functioning ASD.
I sobbed for a week after his diagnosis. Why? It’s the stigma
. It’s challenging to confront a world that is punitive when it comes to vulnerabilities and peculiarities. Most people look at neurodiversity as something wrong instead of what it is - just something different.
And that was my husband and me before Atlas’ assessment. Now, we’re both looking at how even we seem wired differently and could also possibly be neurodiverse.
Atlas, recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Bringing in the Support System
A friend of ours, Iris, an early childhood learning specialist, told me, “The first 100 days after the diagnosis is usually the most challenging. But once you've developed a routine (as a family), things will get better.“
One of the many soothing things she said is that we should look at the diagnosis as the name of the condition. In Atlas’s case, it shouldn’t be a limitation. It’s called a spectrum because of its diverse manifestations. We’re blessed to have someone like her on our side of this daunting but absolutely exciting journey.
True enough, at the moment, Atlas has Speech
and Occupational therapies and Vision Therapy too to help him manage. And he really seem to enjoy all of his therapies. He responds to them quite commendably. Both his DevPed and therapists gave the go signal to get him to regular kindergarten school.
Atlas with his maternal and paternal grandmothers
We’re getting the hang of it, Kevin and myself. It’s mentally, emotionally, and financially draining. Still, we’re navigating it with grit, compassion, and love for each other and Atlas’s grandparents, who are supportive and cherish him more than we could ever ask for.
Acceptance, Awareness, and Advocacy
Acceptance, awareness, and advocacy. These are the three reasons we decided to let our friends know about our journey. We are learning to see the world, especially kids, not just as empty vessels to be taught what is expected and what is not. We’re learning to see what neurodiversity is and what ASD is.
Neurodiversity is power. And what a potential and revelation it is if the whole community advocates for accessible and feasible management avenues like free or at least cost-effective therapy centres. Maybe encourage kids to take career paths to help neurodiverse kids, like speech pathology, occupational therapy, ABA, and SPED.
My son is on the autism spectrum, and because of that, he is more than we could have imagined a perfect son would be -smart, sweet, kind, and awesome. The possibilities of his bright future is absolutely endless.
And here’s an important PS: EARLY INTERVENTION!!! This matters.
Atlas with his Nanay and Tatay
April is Autism Awareness Month.
According to a previous article entitled, "Early Signs of Autism in Toddlers," experts encourage making an appointment with your paediatrician right away if your child is exhibiting symptoms of autism. You will talk about any developmental issues, and the doctor will check your child for autism. The sooner you receive a diagnosis, the earlier you can begin developmental and behavioural therapy.
Any child with ASD is intended to benefit from early intervention in order to reach their full potential. Younger brains can respond to therapies more successfully, which can increase the effectiveness of interventions.
As your child becomes older, these interventions can consist of mental health counselling, speech therapy, occupational therapy, or whatever else professionals think will benefit your child.
The ultimate objective is “making the symptoms more bearable and enriching life as much as feasible.”
Previously written on Facebook and republished with permission from the author.
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