Getting Early Intervention is Key
As we continue to see and hear more in the media regarding Autism and other special needs, we hear Early Diagnosis and Intervention is a key to offering the best chance for optimizing the success in classrooms and a higher quality of life.
I often hear from many families, who like we did, have many questions as the child develops. Some questions we had were:
– Why is my child not doing (this or that) as other kids do?
– Is there a real problem or is he/she just a normal late developing or very active child?
– Is this a phase or something that they can outgrow by 8yrs old or as they grow?
If you have any of these questions, consulting with your child’s pediatrician for advice and getting early intervention can definitely help. It did for us!!!
Each child with autism, and other special needs, is unique so each autism intervention plan should be tailored to address specific needs. Below are a few links to the Autism Speaks website with some definitions to help start the discussion with your child’s doctor(s).
As for our story, my son was born healthy and seemed to develop at the normal pace hitting all the infant and toddler milestones. Between 2-3 years old, we noticed he seemed more sensory seeking than most other children, especially he seemed to be “driven by a motor” and was very orally focused by sucking and putting things in his mouth. When he was 3yrs old, he was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder where he was, “under-sensitized” to stimulation which resulted in pursuing many forms of sensory inputs to reach the “normal” level. These included oral senses of putting things in his mouth, sucking on shirts, biting nails, or eating very sour candies. He talked loud, and listened to TV, music or movies loud. When we sat on the couch, he sat almost on top of us just to get the pressure feeling. He loved and sought out motion like taking rides in the car or in a swing. Slow, steady motion calmed him down; however, fast motion drove his engines higher. When running and playing tag games he would hit a “point of no return”, where he could not control himself and would sky rocket energy wise.
At 3 years old, we pulled him out of a daycare and hired a full time nanny who drove him to weekly Occupational Therapy (OT) sensory sessions to help “regulate” him and provide us with guidance. But as you can imagine, holiday gatherings, birthdays and other large events were nightmares. We worried the whole time and counted the time until it was over just hoping to reduce the impact of the energy and not destroy things. He has since grown out of that, but still has a high energy level.
At 4yrs old, we had him evaluated by specialists at an excellent center for special needs in Boston where we received a diagnosis of Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). This is on the Autism Spectrum as high-functioning, but doesn’t fit the classic symptoms. In his case, he had poor fine motor skills and social development issues mostly non-verbal.
At 4 years old, we also registered him in the local public school to be assessed for the special needs program. The school was just the right answer for us. For 5yrs now, he has been in a special needs, inclusion class setting with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) getting just the right level of services of OT, reading, social skills counseling, and special education. It is still a struggle, but we are on a good path forward at this time.
From our experience, getting early intervention for sensory issues at 3yrs old and then diagnosis of PDD-NOS Autism at 4, allowed us to get him the right services at the right time. There are many excellent specialists and programs out there to assist. I encourage any parent with similar questions to work with their doctors and determine if such things make sense in your situation.