My Autism Awareness article by Maria Davis-Pierre

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Autism Awareness by Maria Davis-Pierre, LMHC

April is Autism Awareness Month. This month means a lot to our family because our daughter was diagnosed 2 years ago. So for the month of April I will be sharing a little of our autism story every week.

Autism Spectrum Disorder consists of these major signs/symptoms:
·      Delayed or no speech
·      Repetitive or unusual behaviors
·      Lack of social skills
·      Trouble controlling emotions
·      Sensory sensitivity
Our daughter began babbling and saying dada at your typical age of 6 months and at 7 months she was saying mama, but as time passed it was like she had forgotten how to say either of those words. I would try to get her to repeat them after I would say it but it was like she just couldn’t. As time progressed she was babbling very little and had very few words she was actually saying. It was because of these concerns that I took her in to be tested.

After the test I was told our child had scored below average on most categories and that there was a concern she was on the autism spectrum. I can say that this wasn’t a complete shock to me as a therapist however it was a blow all the same. After leaving the facility I began to try and make sense of this information, asking myself did I do something wrong during pregnancy?, did I do too much of or not enough of something? All were valid thoughts but really had nothing to do with why a child is diagnosed with Autism. I thought back to what I had envisioned for our daughter and wondering if those dreams could still be a reality. Thinking about how I wanted to play certain games with my child, or dress up and have tea parties, or watch Disney movies all of which she had no interest in. In expressing my feelings to my husband he reassured me that I was going to have to change my thought process and meet my child where she was, and that I was going to have to stop comparing her to kids that are not on the spectrum as it wasn’t good for her or me. And (as difficult as it is for me to say this) he was right. I started having more realistic goals for where she was at currently and started getting her in the necessary therapy.

When she turned 3 she was able to enter Pre-K. We were able to get her in our top school of choice and in August of this past year she started the Palm Beach School for Autism. The child that started school in August is completely different from the child that is about to end this school year. She has made so much progress from now being able to communicate her needs to us, to playing and interacting with other kids and her younger siblings. She is constantly meeting goals we set for her so we are constantly adding new ones. The crazy thing is that she has taught us more that we have taught her. She has taught us to think differently, to not believe that we have certain expectations to live up too, and to slow down and cherish these moments. I saw a shirt the other day with something to the effect of “Autism is a journey I never planned for but I sure do love my tour guide”. And I think that sums up where we are right now enjoying the journey with our child and seeing it through her lens.

Maria Davis-Pierre LMHC
  Day By Day Therapy

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