My son, Campbell Isaiah, is autistic.
And he's still pretty freakin' awesome.
You see, I only knew two things about autism. That autism existed, and that if you were high-functioning, that means you had Asperger's, a form of autism. That's it.
I know lots of kids with autism. I know lots of parents who have autism. And I knew that Campbell had something going on with him.
Rather than re-hash how we got to this point, you can just read this...
Bottom line, could Campbell have autism? No. No way. I mean, we did everything right, right?
We have regulated his diet from pretty much the beginning... he didn't breastfeed, so we did formula... his system didn't like the formula we gave him (Enfamil and then Gerber Baby--nothing wrong with those products, he just didn't agree with them). So we started making our own, using goat's milk and some nutrients we had researched and liked. As he got older, we began to regulate his diet.... when he started eating solid foods, it was nothing but straight up fruits and veggies.
Rutabaga... carrots... peas... squash... beets... blueberries... bananas... apples... nectarines... pears... mangos... peaches... you name it, he'll eat it. Just peel, steam, blend and feed. We dropped the blending part, and just cut up into small chunks after a few months. The only thing we have found that he just will.not.eat. is broccoli... he took it off the fork, and without even trying it, dropped it onto the floor. That's his way of saying, "Nope."
|On the bulletin board at the clinic|
We began getting both speech and occupational therapy with him at our home. A couple of chicks would come here, work with him in playing and speaking, and again, they recommended an autism screening. The Mitchell's Place was the first one that everyone referred us to, but after calling, the couldn't get us in until October.
We certainly couldn't wait that long... so after doing a ton of research, The Lovely Steph Leann then got us an appointment with the University of Alabama Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinic... and we braced ourselves for what we knew would probably happen.
For about three hours, we were interviewed by one of the psychologists. They asked all kinds of questions like, "Does he do this..." and "How does he react when..." and "Have you noticed him doing..." and stuff like that. I wanted to answer positively on everything, but just couldn't. We had to be honest. And the longer it went on, we knew.
Another lady played with him the entire time, doing specific activities and games with him to gauge his motor and play skills. She pulled out certain toys to see how he problem solved, and blew bubbles all over the room to see his reaction. And both she and the psychologist made lots and lots of notes.
They left us, and came back a 1/2 hour later, and simply said:
Campbell has Autism.
We knew it, but there's something about having someone official say something so official.
He has autism.
Turns out, there is something called an autism spectrum... its like a line, and the higher you go, the better you are. He ranked somewhere in the middle, at a 56. His motor skills ranked high--in the 16 month old range. His expressive and reactive? He's at a 5mo level. He has the same kind of expressive reactions to us that he had in April of 2012.
He has autism.
We talked for a while about the things we have done, and what the future holds. The next few days came, and went... nothing really changed for Campbell or us. We kept on doing what we were doing... same food, same play activities and so on.
She told us, "I've seen children that were higher on the spectrum plateau in a few years and never get better. I've seen children much lower on the spectrum grow up and have productive, wonderful lives. Take it year by year."
Saturday night, we did our little share of grieving... I watched him. I watched him move around the room and all the things the psychologist had said rushed back to me... the signs. The symptoms. What he would do, what he wouldn't do. And it was true. If these were the signs, then yes
He has autism.
A day or two more, thoughts filled my mind... this wasn't supposed to happen... remember, we did all the preventative measures. We didn't even vaccinate (that's another story for another day)! I mean, Campbell was supposed to grow up... play with Buzz Lightyear and Lightnin McQueen... take tennis lessons... become a teenager... drive... graduate high school, work at Starbucks, go to college (go Trojans!), find a nice girl, date... grow old!
And now? (in my most panicked voice) He's got The Autisma! He's broked! Now he'll be a drooling goob living with us when he's 45 years old, sucking all of our resources and finances because we continually have to get him care, because he can't even bathe himself!!!!!
We know this isn't all true. But it all ran through my mind. That's what Fear does. Fear takes the worst case scenarios, usually far fetched, and turns them into the most likely scenarios.
So we had to Punch Fear in the Face. Pray about it, push back those anxieties, and start to look ahead.
But a few days ago, something huge occurred to me... back 10, 15, 20 years ago, The Autism was a fun-life death sentence. Meaning, if your child was autistic, you had limited resources, limited options, and I'm guessing a vast majority of diagnosed kids didn't get the help, training, therapy and opportunities they deserved and needed, leaving only a small number that went on to have those awesome lives.
|This was taken about 4 minutes ago. He spends so much|
time trying to get my attention, its hard to get things...
but just now, trying to get a good picture, I couldn't keep
him around me... little turd.
I voiced this theory with Melissa, our occupational therapist, and she wholeheartedly agreed. She said simply, "All the guarantees that he had for opportunities to be successful... he still has them. Its just a different path he'll be on." We were very encouraged that we not only caught it early, but we also started doing some of the things needed months ago.
So here we are... we take it week by week, month by month, year by year... actually, like most parents will, with their own children.
We are indeed taking year by year. But we are optimistic that Campbell Isaiah has a great future ahead of him.
He has autism.
And he's pretty fantastic.
Boom goes the autistic dynamite.