Confessions

I've come to the conclusion that mommy blogging is hard for several reasons. It's hard keeping it updated obviously, setting aside any sort of uninterrupted time as a mother is always a challenge, but I think the biggest trial is knowing how much about your family you want to share. There is a reason why I haven't posted at all this year. The truth is the past couple years have been tough on me and on my family. For one we added another kid, so there's that, but also because there is something about our family that has been strenuous but something I've been hesitant to talk about. How can I be honest on this blog and share about how I'm doing and what I'm thinking, when I'm not talking about the main thing that has been filling my thoughts and my life as a mother? So here it goes. My daughter Kaitlyn was diagnosed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder in January of 2015. 

Some background.

When Kaitlyn turned two we took her to her two year old check-up. Her pediatrician asked me "How many words does can Kaitlyn say?"..... I paused for a moment because at this point she said a few words, but none of those words sounded like the actual words. So I said "none." My pediatrician said "She's definitely delayed, she should be saying 20-30 words at least." So we she was assessed through Early Intervention and at the initial assessment she scored as being normal in all categories and only qualified for speech sessions.

I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that my worst fear was nothing at all. So we started with the speech sessions for once a week for 45 mins at a time and over time it did absolutely nothing. The funny thing is, when I brought her to the doctor at 2 years old and I filled out the check list of "Possible Warning Signs" of ASD, she barely hit any of the categories. Over the next 6 months, like some sort of self-fulfilled prophesy I started seeing more of the symptoms appear. It was like the presentiment of a diagnosis was looming over me like a ghost. As each of these "warning signs" appeared, solid pieces of the puzzle began to fill the shadowy frame, validating all my fears. She started becoming more withdrawn (little eye contact etc.), being fixated on certain things, unable to control her emotions, sensory issues, and still not able to communicate or understand simple words and phrases.

Then her speech therapist recommended getting her reassessed. She started intensive skills training sessions where a skills trainer came over everyday for three hours. Her curriculum was very comprehensive and she trained her in speech, self care, occupational therapy, and education. It was monumentally helpful. I started seeing her connect more and making progress. I still wonder till this day, "What would have happened if we hadn't lost those 6 months?" After a few months of intensive services we got her final assessment as being on the Autism Spectrum, with a psychologist from the Board of Health. I remember holding Audrey, who was only a week old at the time, in full on postpartum-hormone-crazed-sleep-deprived-mode thinking, "How am I going to raise a newborn and handle all of this??" Little did I know that Audrey would help Kaitlyn in ways I never could. That's another post for another time.

After her assessment, we continued with Early Intervention until she turned three in May 2015. It was so sad to say farewell to her skills trainer but I was so grateful for all that she did for us and especially for allowing me to see what Kaitlyn was capable of. When you have the right team in place Early Intervention is an powerful and indispensable resource and I strongly advocate for those in need to make use of the services.

Here are some pictures of her taken a year and 1/2 ago during her intensive sessions.

Through Early Intervention she learned to communicate through pictures, sign language, and simple words. Here she is telling the teacher which puzzle she wants to do.

Through Early Intervention she learned to communicate through pictures, sign language, and simple words. Here she is telling the teacher which puzzle she wants to do.

She is still a puzzle addict!

She is still a puzzle addict!

Her trainer brought lots of supplies for each session. Everything from an iPad, crafts, toys, sensory activities etc. Here she is doing a board puzzle, one of the many treasures in the skills trainer's bag!

Her trainer brought lots of supplies for each session. Everything from an iPad, crafts, toys, sensory activities etc. Here she is doing a board puzzle, one of the many treasures in the skills trainer's bag!

Song and dance with her skills coordinator and skills trainer.

Song and dance with her skills coordinator and skills trainer.

The skills trainer took very meticulous notes on all of her goals and her percentages for reaching them. I still have binders full of all she learned for each session. 

The skills trainer took very meticulous notes on all of her goals and her percentages for reaching them. I still have binders full of all she learned for each session. 

Art time with snacks. This was one of her favorite parts.

Art time with snacks. This was one of her favorite parts.

Crafts and sensory activities all in one. If Joey wasn't at preschool he sometimes joined in!

Crafts and sensory activities all in one. If Joey wasn't at preschool he sometimes joined in!

Now Kaitlyn is in special education preschool with the Department of Education. She loves preschool and every morning when I drop her off, she waves "Bye!" and never looks back. She continues to make progress and we celebrate each hard earned victory. There is a lot I've learned about ASD and it has certainly challenged me and has shaped me as a mother.

Here are some pictures of her at her preschool.

I took some snap shots of pictures on her wall. She had a cooking day.

I took some snap shots of pictures on her wall. She had a cooking day.

Pen pal day!

Pen pal day!

Sensory activities at school.

Sensory activities at school.

We made paper leis and had snacks for May Day. Parents were able to join!

We made paper leis and had snacks for May Day. Parents were able to join!

May day picture with her class! Her teacher is trying to get her to pose for camera... but it was HOT!!

May day picture with her class! Her teacher is trying to get her to pose for camera... but it was HOT!!

So why am I sharing this now? While we were going through Early Intervention and I was trying to come to grips with what was happening, one of the few things that brought me great comfort and reassurance was reading other mom blogs who were going through the same thing. Their words were like the sun's warmth on the back of your neck after being out in the rain on a cold windy day. It was through their vulnerability and veracity that I was able to get through those times. I hope maybe my story will be able to do that for someone else.  Also, I wanted to continue this blog and it came to the point where I either had to chose to stop blogging altogether or be honest about what I was going though. Now, I don't want this blog to now be only about ASD but I would like it to continue to be about motherhood, the good times, and bad and everything in between. Kaitlyn's ASD certainly an important aspect of our family, but it doesn't define all that we are. And finally, I missed blogging, I've miss it a lot. Sometimes I felt like if I didn't write down and share what I was going through I would burst. I have so many unfinished and unpublished posts, just collecting dust in the blogosphere. There are so many things I've wanted to share, things I've learned about ASD, nursing, sibling dynamics etc. but I felt I couldn't share until I disclosed about this aspect of our lives. Now that I've shared, I hope you can join us as we continue this crazy journey while still being daechoong along the way.

#smalleyes she's obviously from my gene pool.

#smalleyes she's obviously from my gene pool.

 Some IG pics. Follow me @daechoongmama

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