I Was Skeptical When Doctors Said to Screen My Son for Autism

As a dad, you always want the best for your kids. When they’re growing up, you hone in on every little nuance of their development milestones. At least you think you do. Sometimes even the most obvious things are undetected. When my son wasn’t responding to his name or recognizing pictures by the time he turned 1, I assumed it was because he was a late bloomer. I had no idea of the journey ahead of us.


That nagging doubt didn’t simply go away. My wife and I debated on a daily basis whether this was normal or something that needed to be further evaluated. Eventually we took our son to his pediatrician. They sent him for hearing tests and other evaluations to see if there was some non-developmental reason for his delays. Eventually they sent him for a screening to see if he was on the autism spectrum.

I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to these types of things. Before seeking medical attention, I’ll always try first to evaluate everything and try to determine the root cause. In this case, however, there didn’t seem to be any definitive reason why our son wasn’t reaching his developmental milestones. We followed every recommendation in the books, and he still wasn’t progressing. We decided to take the advice of the doctor and get the screening done. Professionals evaluated his motor skills and his cognitive development, and the answer was a resounding “Yes.” He was on the spectrum — the far end of the spectrum.

What followed was a flurry of activity. Birth to Three intervened and got him occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech, music — the whole nine yards. We spent the next few years seeing neuropsychologists, developmental pediatricians, feeding specialists and a host of others. Not a day went by when we didn’t have to evaluate the merits of applied behavior analysis vs. play therapy or consider the possibility of gluten acting as a toxin in his body, causing the developmental delays. We spoke to other families that advised us not to get him vaccinated. It was overwhelming.

All the while, our youngest son was born and quickly growing up. It was difficult because when you’re so focused on the needs of a toddler with developmental delays, it’s easy to lose focus of your typically developing children. They’re achieving milestones on their own without specialists and treatments. But having those specialists provided a significant advantage for our younger son. He soaked it up like a sponge, and by the time he went to preschool, he was a force to be reckoned with.

By the time our toddler on the spectrum was 3, we were ready to transition him to the school program. To say this was a challenge would be an understatement. This was a full-time job. We weren’t prepared for how much his services would be lessened once he was in the public education system. Numerous meetings with teachers and the principal followed. It was up to us to advocate for our son — to fight and make sure he was getting the services he required. We ended up with a combination of services through the school and through a separate private center.

Now he’s 7 years old, making strides in second grade, learning social skills and making lots of friends. I wholehearted believe that had it not been for early intervention, he wouldn’t be where he is today. I thank God for the strength of my wife to refuse to ignore his delays, for services such as Birth to Three that provided early intervention and to the school district for giving him the love and attention he needed to be a success.


This post originally appeared on resergencewebdesign.

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