It’s Not the End of the World for My Child
When asked, “What was it like for Ashley (32) and Allen (34), at the time of their 2 year old son, Barrett’s diagnosis”, so many things come to mind for them.
Before his diagnosis, they had never heard of autism or what it was but they remember very vividly being told by their pediatrician, your son will never be like “normal” children or adults.
Ashley remembers, “Barrett was diagnosed with severe autism the day before Thanksgiving in 2015. “It was a day of sorrow and disbelief that changed our lives forever. It was challenging for everyone. Everybody in the family was on their own level of grieving. Some were in denial, while others where in fight mode. As a family we didn’t understand what we needed to do to help him.”
Reflecting on the challenges that her family and Barrett face, it is hard for Ashley to pinpoint one thing. “There are so many obstacles that we deal with every day-physically, mentally, and emotionally.
- Some physical changes are toileting, dressing, and everyday hygiene.
- Mental challenges for Barrett can be anything from communication to understanding day-to-day appropriate behavior.
- Emotional challenges can be tied in with the overall reactions to everyday life such as frustrations, melt downs, and other environmental exposures.
To say that one challenge is greater than any other for a child on the autism spectrum would be a false reality. The challenges are many but the rewards is great,” Ashley says, “We set out on this journey not knowing what to expect but knowing that we will be blessed no matter the outcome. But you have to make the best of it and move on.”
We discussed the options of early intervention and intense therapy with our Alta California Regional representative and pediatrician. Barrett was 2 years old, non-verbal with sensory processing disorder. As time has passed he has made great improvements and is well on his way.
Barrett is now 4 years old and has just started making words and some phrases. It wasn’t without struggle, but with perseverance and the right resources of early intervention, it has given him and our family the building blocks for success.
Ashley says, “Having a good support system with other families with children in similar circumstances to ours has also helped greatly with emotional obstacles.”
The Jump Start program through Placer County of Education for early intervention gave them tools as a family to use to better help with the challenges they faced on a day-to-day basis.
Continuing extensive early intervention, Barrett attends a neighborhood elementary school pre-K special education program along with speech therapy. He also has an in-home Learning Solutions counselor who comes after school that reaffirms the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) techniques while assisting with everyday life skills. It gives Barrett structure, routine, and confidence to be able to be the brightest and the “most” best person he can be. The early intervention programs that are available not only help with life skills but also help to academically-ready a child for mainstream school which is ultimately the goal of a parent to raise your child to be a productive, independent, successful person in society.
Ashley agreed, “Overall I would say that the benefits of early intervention are greatly needed not only
benefiting Barrett but the family as well.”
UCP’s Family Respite is a godsend, as a young couple our thoughts were, “It wasn’t the end of the world for us or Barrett. We are still able to attend country concerts with friends, going to doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, everyday errands or I can have Girls’ night out without resentment of having a disabled child at home,” says Ashley.
“UCP’s Family Respite Care services provide a much needed mental break so that I can maintain my patience, continue to have perseverance and always ask questions.”
When asked, “What advice do you have for parents?” Ashley says, “Most importantly remember you are your child’s voice and advocate.”