Every mother spends their pregnancy hoping and praying to have a ‘normal’ healthy baby boy or girl. And I was no different. I was so happy when my daughter Keira was born, and every thing checked out. I was so happy to know that even though I made my mistakes, that I had a normal and healthy baby girl. I was blessed.
Over her first year of life, Keira seemed to develop perfectly well. She started eating baby food, feeding herself finger food, and learned to roll over as well as crawl. We started to teach her simple baby sign language; words like ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘more’. She started walking around her first birthday, as well as finally growing hair and cutting almost all of the rest of her teeth. I admit, I was still feeling blessed and proud.
Around 16 months, I started to notice a change within my daughter. She only said a few words verbally before; but all of a sudden she stopped. She stopped using her sign language … but I pushed through. She stopped responding to learning new things. By the time she was 18 months old, she was the only toddler at her age, that couldn’t eat with a spoon or fork.
I started to worry. I talked to her pediatrician at her 18 month check up, told her all of my concerns. How I really REALLY wanted to potty train Keira by the time she was two like all my mommy friends had done with their little ones; but that I was concerned with her lack of communication and disinterest in learning any new skills. The pediatrician told me I was just being paranoid, but as mommies, it’s like we have this 6th (or 8th) sense when something just isn’t right with our baby.
I left the doctor’s office feeling only slightly better. I tried to reassure myself that Keira was normal, nothing was wrong. But in the back of my mind, I couldn’t get over the fact that it just didn’t feel right. Over the next 6 months, I watched as my daughter started to interact within her environment less and less. I haven’t heard my sweet angel say “mommy” in over a year. Keira slowly let go of so many skills she had gained.
At her two year check up, there was a new pediatrician in her office and again I voiced my concerns about my daughter. This time, the office sent a referral for a therapy evaluation. The next three weeks dragged on an on and on while I waited for them to schedule Keira’s evaluation. The night before I couldn’t sleep. I stayed up most the night pacing, wondering what they would tell me, what would happen. So concerned with what was wrong with my baby?
The doorbell rang at 9 am the next morning, and a bubbly woman is standing at my door, ready to meet my Keibear to evaluate her mental development. Two long hours later, a diagnose had been made.
“Your daughter has moderate functioning Autism, as well as Sensory Processing Disorder.”
I sat there, staring into space. For hours I cried. Why me? Why couldn’t someone else have a kid like this. I called my husband at work, and he remained optimistic, and tried to calm me down. When he got home we researched Autism.
So much about my daughter’s behavior started making sense. Why she didn’t like crowds, or loud noises. Why she did this weird pinching thing with her fingers when she was over-stimulated. My hope was fading. Autism has such a WIDE spectrum, that every case, is almost completely independent. But the more we researched and read about this disability, the more we realized that we have a unique child.
I started noticing her gifts and thinking of the situation differently. She is one of the most intelligent child that I know, she just learns and reacts differently then other kids. And the more I watch my sweet girl, the more I realize this is why I, above everyone else, was chosen to be her mommy. I can handle this, and I will support and care for her no matter what.
My Keibear, is unique, beautiful, smart, and Autistic. But just like no two butterflies have the same spots, there’s no other child like mine. I am proud to say, I am Keira’s mommy. She may not fit into anyone’s definition of ‘normal and healthy’, but she’s normal and healthy to me. ❤
Written by Brittany White, Embrace Grace Alumni