Friday, September 18, 2015

Early Intervention is vital

By now most people know me and refer to me as The East Coast Mama Grizzly Bear, I gladly take the name with pride. I am the author/writer of
How did I get that name?

Well that's my very first piece published on the disability website The Mighty

I have sat down on my floor and been apart of every aspect of Zoey's therapy plan: Speech, Occupational, Behavior Therapies, as well as Behavior Intervention. For 14 months these professionals have come into our home and have taught me all about getting into Zoey's world! 

14 months of EI is huge when I was initially told I had a year wait, she would have missed out on all this crucial therapy, and it is and has been crucial. 

Zoey was developing and hitting every milestone, babbling and saying "Mama and Dada." 

We had no clue that in just a few short months that Autism would become apart of our life, it had packed its bags and moved on in and became a permenant member of our family. Like most new things there are periods of adjustment and boy did we have that and then some. We had no idea what we were doing, and we had no idea we'd be doing it alone. 

Our support system became the therapists, and my personal support system became other Moms and Dads like us on Facebook...a whole  community of people who just "got it!" I started blogging Zoey's journey with EI and it helped me and then I started getting messages of how I inspired and helped others. 

Zoey was diagnosed with ASD, GDD, OCD, and dyspraxia of speech, they considered her severely nonverbal. 

Our once happy go lucky baby girl had stopped wanting to be picked up, she would actually flinch and keep her arms down if we tried to pick her up, there were no more hugs and kisses. 

Now she sits on my lap, climbs all over me, I waited 14 months of her getting EI to get my first ever kiss from her without having to steal one while she slept, and when she hugs me tight she says "aww baby." She is 3 and I heard "I wuv you" for the first time just a few days ago. I waited 3 years to hear that and 3 years for that kiss and you know what, it was Amazing and so worth the wait.

My child would scream and scream because words were trapped inside her and she could not tell me what she wanted or needed. I never knew when she needed milk or food or what foods she actually liked. I was in a foreign country trying to understand the language and I had no was hard on all of us! You see, when you get a diagnosis, the whole family goes through every bit of it and we were going through it head on. 

I used to hear "She will talk when she's ready" or "my child didn't talk until he was four" and even "well, she doesn't look autistic"

We went through it alone! 

Not completely alone though! Zoey had in home intensive therapies for 14 months. 
We have this huge support system of professionals that have been in our house for 14 months. They have seen me in my pajamas, hair all disheveled, 4 months without sleep because Zoey was having continuous meltdowns, my house a mess, they have seen me cry, and they have hugged me and cried along with me. 

I'm proud of myself for fighting to get the EI services that Zoey desperately needed, and I am thankful to Zoey's EI Team, we really had the best of the best! As her EI ends now and she transitions to her Developmental Pre K program...let me tell you what Zoey can do!

She sings beautifully and I'm in awe every time I hear her!

She wants us to pick her up now, she comes to us and says "up."

She went from not being able to point or verbally tell us anything to now pointing at the  counter saying "Mo apples."

She hugs and now kisses us (my favorite)

She has words!! We were told that there was no guarantee our child would ever speak, Zoey can say:

Bye Bye
I wuv you
Ready set go
Oey (Zoey)
Dog (with panting like a dog)
More (now handing me her cup when it's empty)
Pease (please)
Mama (another favorite)

Does she still scream out of frustration, absolutely. But she's mimicking more and more every single day! 

To be told that there was a year wait for EI, fight and get the appointment and diagnosis 17 days later, and to have my child that was considered severely nonverbal to have 14 months of Early Intervention...yeah I'm proud, and I would do it all again! 

I want to thank the BEST EI team for helping our family get into Zoey's world, for all that they have done for us emotionally, and for caring about our child and not treating her just like a statistic! This team is family, they rejoiced in all of the accomplishments and they helped us cope with the set backs. EI was vital for Zoey and we had the Best of the Best! 

Thank you so much for all that you have done for Zoey and our family, we are grateful to you Miss Heidi, Miss Barbara, Miss Kristen, and Mr Bill! 

You helped a sad and scared mom get to know her child, and for her to get to know me! I'm forever grateful! 

Don't let anyone tell you that it can't be done or that you have to wait, or to tell you No!

I didn't! 

We need to have the talk, Early Intervention is vital. In New Hampshire as soon as you turn 3 years old EI ends, and what's scary is that most children are not even diagnosed until after 3 or they are told to wait, like us. Why wait? Early Intervention has been proven to be  the best when a child is diagnosed early on for helping to get into that child's world and learn how they learn. 

Instead we have parents being told that they have to wait or that they missed the age cap. Well, what happens to these children when they become adults? Without this crucial EI we have Autistic Adults who are aging out and some living in assisted facilities. It doesn't have to be this way! 

There should be no age cap! Please help our children now! 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with Autism, that number grows every year. 
Do we help them now when they are newly diagnosed or do we let them age out and have the states pay for them when they age out at 20 years old? 

As parents and educators it is our job to shape and mold the mind of young children, Autistic or not! 

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