Our Story is One of Early Diagnosis & Intervention
When I tell people that Nicholas was officially diagnosed with Autism at 18 months of age and was actively participating in intensive therapy at 20 months – they are typically surprised. “They can really diagnosis it that early?” It’s a reasonable question and all I can say is that in Nicholas’ case the answer is an astounding YES!
Nicholas at 16 months
It was at his 16 month checkup that I informed his pediatrician that I had some concerns. When I began to tell her that he did not talk yet, she immediately stopped me and said:
“I don’t care if he doesn’t talk until he is 2 years old. We need to make sure he is understanding you.”
She began asking me very specific questions and my answers left both of us with additional concerns. Sure he couldn’t point to his nose if I asked him to, but I was certain that I had been confusing him with all the other body parts.
She gave me some homework and set an appointment for 30 days.
I worked hard for the next month trying to get him to point to his nose. I immediately stopped mentioning his eyes, ears, mouth and just focused on his nose – surely he could do it I thought! After all there is only one of them (unlike confusing body parts like ears and eyes) and it’s right smack in the center of his face. Even I should be able to teach him to point to his nose over the next month.
After the 1st week of trying, really trying – to get him to point to his nose on request, there was no success. I started hoping that my son was deaf. For some reason that diagnosis seemed more manageable to me.
When we went back to the pediatrician after 30 days, she began calling his name and there was no response. I was still hoping he had some sort of strange hearing disorder or was maybe only deaf in one ear. Even though I knew he could hear, I was unsure of how well he could hear. She tapped her pen on the table and he turned his head immediately to see what the noise was. He could hear just fine.
From that appointment we were immediately referred to California’s Regional Center for follow up. He received an official diagnosis of Autism with the child psychologists and other professionals in their field provided from the Regional Center.
What took about 6 weeks to start therapy, seemed like an eternity to me. There is NO CURE for Autism! Intensive therapies including behavioral applications, speech and occupational therapies can and do help.
My son needed it all and he got it all. If they offered it to me, I said yes let’s do it. Nicholas received intensive therapy from one of the best Children’s Rehabilitation Centers in the country (Casa Colina Children’s Center in Pomona, CA). He was receiving in home and in center therapies 5 days a week from the time he was 20 months old until he turned 3 years old.
In California, children with a diagnosis of Autism are able to transfer to the public school system and attend the special education preschool program. At that time school doors were open, in person 5 days a week for 4-1/2 hours a day. Since we were also Regional Center Clients, we were able to continue with in home therapies as well.
My son is far from perfect, but I do credit early diagnosis & intervention for Nicholas being as good as he is – whatever that might mean.