Autism- What did we see…

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I have had a lot of people ask me what we saw in my daughter that first had us asking questions. Looking back we had issues from day 1 before we ever left the hospital.
There was constant crying that I couldn’t comfort, it almost seemed like she was not comfortable in her own skin. I used that statement to describe Giada for her 1st year of life. It sounds terrible that an infant could not be comfortable in their own skin but that was the best way to describe it.

Probably one of the most common things we hear when we tell people about her autism is “I didn’t think they could diagnose it that young…” Well Giada was 19 months old when she was officially diagnosed. That puts her in the youngest 10% ever diagnosed.
Yes autism can be diagnosed that young. I have read and heard about children as young as 15 months being diagnosed.

A lot of the delay I believe in diagnosis of most children is parents not picking up on things right away or some pediatricians blowing off parents concerns saying the child is young and using the lets wait and see approach. Giada is not my first child. My son Nicholas is almost 23 months older. His milestones were my guide with hers.

Now Nicholas was a late talker. He had chronic ear infections that ended with tubes being put in when he was 14 months old. He was also left with minor middle ear hearing loss after the fact. By the time he was 2 he only had handful of words in his vocabulary. Then around 26 months his speech exploded and now at 3 1/2 has a very advanced vocabulary for his age.

We attributed his late talking to the ear infections but when we were getting close to Giada’s 15 month well check up and she wasn’t talking I thought maybe my kids are just late talkers and Nicholas’s ear infections were just a coincidence. Giada was babbling up a storm and loved the sound of her own voice but really didn’t have any words. She would babble mama and dada but at the time we didn’t realize it was never directed to Brad or myself. It was just babble. So when we went in for Giada’s 15 month well check up we told the Dr she had 2 words but I wasn’t worried because Nicholas spoke late. The Dr. didn’t seemed concerned said as long as we saw her improving that was all that mattered and we all went on our merry way.

It wasn’t a week later my Mom said something to me that really made me look at everything closer. She said “Kris, I can’t really get her to look at me.” I made excuses that my parents had only moved to the area a few months earlier and Giada would look at me.

The next few days I started to realize that yes Giada would look at me but not when you would think a child should look at their mother. When I went into her room in the morning to get her out of her crib, she wouldn’t look at me- still doesn’t. When she would look at me I really had to work hard to get her attention but once I had it, I had it.

During my process of realizing this I also realized that Giada was not responding to her name. I would call her once, twice and eventually go over to her. She would not turn and acknowledge you when you called her.

It was like a downward spiral. Once I realized she wouldn’t respond to her name I realized she really didn’t understand anything I was saying to her. She was my baby and I found myself saying things and when she wasn’t responding with an action I was just doing it for her instead. I had thrown a blanket over my own eyes without even noticing.

Even though Nicholas was a late talker, from a very early age he understood everything we would say to him. With Giada their was nothing. These big beautiful blue eyes would look at me as I asked where is the ball? (As I was holding it in my hand) and it was like no one was there. I was speaking a different language.

Other big thing we saw was her play. Giada preferred to play alone and she really didn’t “play”. Giada’s play consisted of picking up a toy/object holding it in her hand, holding it in front of her face and then twisting and spinning her hand around to inspect the object. Once she was finished she would throw the object back over her shoulder, grab the next toy and do it all over again. Giada would and still will do this for hours on end if you would let her.
It doesn’t matter what the toy is- puzzles, cars, blocks, little people the process is always the same.

These things are all big red flags when it comes to Autism.
As hard as I am on myself as to why I didn’t pick up on them sooner, we picked up on them a lot earlier than most.

Like I have said before, there is nothing wrong in seeking an evaluation. If you are concerned at all about your child for whatever reason get testing. Don’t wait! Time is everything! Don’t let your fear of what you may find out stop you in doing what is best for your child!

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