Ziah, or Scoobies as most people know him, was diagnosed with Autism in the summer of 2006. He’s high-functioning. When the Psychologist first told me this, and that Zion could possibly be Autistic as well, I sat and cried my eyes out right there in the psychologist’s office. My brain was going a million places. At the time life had already brought some unexpected, and unrealistic events that I was just getting a grip on, now this? How could my kids be retarded, or stupid? Those were the only words I could think of at the time to describe the situation. My initial thoughts also included, “My twins are dumb”, “Ziah will never talk”, and “I will be stuck with him forever.” I thought that he would never be normal or fit in with the rest of the kids, and I would always have to explain his condition to others or make excuses for his behavior. But more importantly, I knew that I would always have to protect him from himself and others. Some days I really find it hard to believe that he is autistic because of what he can do and how far he has progressed. But, then there are moments when his symptoms match every example in the book. I am still struggling with the reality of having to care for an autistic child and finding creative ways to help him, it’s definitely a challenge. At times his comprehension or interpretation of things is not as advanced as Zion’s or the other kids and that can be frustrating. Yet, at other times he excels and is very insightful. But no matter his limitations he doesn’t let it get him down. Actually, he is so laid back, he usually doesn’t let much get to him. He just goes with the flow. So cool.
Ziah and Zion didn’t start talking until they were about 3 years old. Going to speech therapy combined with school has definitely helped build their vocabulary and socialization skills. Also, at the time I found other ways for them to talk and communicate their needs. In hindsight, I am so glad I listened to my inner voice and got help early instead of waiting around living in denial. I can’t imagine how life would be if I had waited and waited for them to get it right on their own and it never happening. That is the most important thing I tell parents, when they have a “gut feeling” that something may be wrong with their child. Don’t be passive, follow through with it and seek help. Make appointments, find answers and read as much as you can about autism, do you own research, and get referrals. Early intervention can make a huge difference.
Now, they both are in First Grade. Ziah still receives speech/physical therapy. And he receives extra assistance in the classroom when needed. We still have our days. Some days I feel like I am going to just give in because I think that I can’t do this, and I want to pull every strand of my hair out. I want to start over, and etc. But, I have to remember that God will never give you more than you can bear. He will never leave you in a situation without the proper tools to handle it.
Now, I am learning to take this one day at a time. We have more good days than bad. He still struggles in some areas, but with the support and guidance he receives he will be able to continue on his path to success. Zion, at this point has not been diagnosed with Autism although some of the symptoms are there. But I am optimistic because he is the brightest little child, a quick thinker, and he remembers every little detail. He is also a deep thinker which scares at times because he obsesses over certain things. But more on Zion later.