Elle was a ‘late bloomer’. She didn’t do anything early. She rolled over late, sat up late, crawled late, walked late….she didn’t eat truly solid foods until her first birthday, and even then I was afraid she would choke on the cupcake we gave her! Still, we didn’t really think that much of it, as all kids develop at different rates. We have never been into ‘pushing’ either, so we just encouraged her and didn’t stress too much. Speaking didn’t seem to be on her agenda either, though we did get her to say ‘more’ and sign it at the same time, as well as point to her nose and eyes and try to say both words. I don’t recall hearing her say mama, maybe Karl would remember.
It wasn’t until she was about 15 months old that I really began to notice that she wasn’t doing things in the ‘normal’ way. She had lots of ‘fits’, would throw herself on the floor and cry (I worried she would hurt herself), and we often did not know what had happened to upset her. I figured out how to look for what was wrong, what she needed, by following her eyes. In that way I could meet her needs, as she was usually looking at her cup, the food she wanted, a toy Emma was holding, etc.
There were other things that worried me. Honestly, I can’t put my finger on them now, but I began to read books that I got from the library about special needs kids and diagnosing them. My biggest fear, if you will, was autism. I have read about it and I know, or have known, people who either live with autism themselves or have children who are on the spectrum. It is doable, and the kids and families that I know are great. But it’s still hard, and we all know that we never want life to be more difficult than necessary for our children!
So I began reading…..I knew early intervention was essential. I asked questions of a friend of mine, and actually a couple of friends suggested having her evaluated, just to ease my mind if nothing else. I knew that her 18-month check-up, which would be soon, would mean the doctor would be doing another screening, something they are supposed to do at that age, to look for signs of autism. I let him examine her, and when he asked me about her development I told him about my concerns. Here is my list at the time:
- Not answering to her name
- Not pointing to what she wants or needs
- Not asking for what she needs
- Not using words to identify or ask for things, though she did have some words she could say
- her ‘fits’
There may have been more, I can’t remember. My doctor said it would be good to have her see a developmental specialist. I called the number he gave me to schedule her appointment before we ever left the parking lot that day. We had to wait five more weeks before Elle would be evaluated.
While we waited for the evaluation day to arrive, I continued to observe my baby. I asked more questions of people I knew. I read more books on autism, developmental delays, how to change diets to improve abilities, therapies, etc. And we continued to experience lots of screaming and grunting while we tried to figure out what she wanted throughout each day. One thing I did know was that God had given us this sweet girl, and that He would see us through this, whatever ‘this’ was. The best words spoken to me during that waiting period came from my husband. He said one night when I was worrying, “Even if there is something wrong, your worrying about it isn’t going to change anything.” He was right, and from then on I just tried to trust that this was all part of God’s plan for us.