Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Who, Me? Again?

First Linda, now Theresa have decided I should be given a "Community Blogger" award. I am flattered, really flattered that they think I deserve such an honor. I very much appreciate their votes of confidence but really, I just like to try to find ways to put the spotlight on other bloggers and their posts and what better way to do it than to point these things out to everyone else for all to see, to read, to enjoy. And, here's hoping those of you reading the posts in which I lead you to other blogs will follow through, click in and see what interesting and fun things are available through these bloggers.

A couple of things I've been meaning to point out to all here - one is an article that I read the other day posted on another blog - Wade and Erika's - that I found very touching. Titled "Ray of Hope," it's a tremendous, heart-warming story of a young man's gift that touched several others. I can't go into details here as that would ruin the story for you, but I do recommend you take the time to read it and who knows, maybe someone else will take the same steps this extraordinary young man too as a means to provide the most precious gift possible.

I've also debated about sharing some other information pertaining to my family here. And, one thing or another seemed to crop up and I put off writing about this but I think there's no better time than now to talk about this development.

As you know, I've mentioned my little Princess, Maya, on many occasions in my blog. And, I've also explained that she is special - very, very special to us not just because she is so doggone pretty, mischievous, smart, lovable in all respects but also because she is autistic. We have been very fortunate in that through an agency in our area, she received two years of therapy for play/behavior and also for speech and now, is enrolled in a special school where she will get even more instruction that will enable her to transition into kindergarten two years from now - along with other children her age. She's doing very well in this program, has adapted quite easily to the routine of riding the van to the school with "Mr. Fred" as her chauffeur; to the class where she is with six other children also on the Autism Spectrum, and especially to her teacher, Pam, and the aides in her classroom. She loves going to school - asks as soon as she gets up each morning if she is going to go to school that day and I just wonder now if a few years down the road she will still have that same degree of enthusiasm for academics. Hopefully, she will, but only time will tell on that idea, won't it?

But Maya also has a younger brother, Kurtis, who is now 18 months old and for some time, his mother, aunt and I have noticed many similarities in his actions to signs we saw in Maya early on that led us to believe he too may be autistic. Mandy, my daughter and mother of these two little ones, called our family doctor's attention to some of these markers about two months ago and the doctor referred him over for testing for the Early Interventions Program - the same program Maya is still in and two weeks ago, a team of three specialists in early childhood education came to the house and tested Kurtis to try to determine if he, like Maya, needs the specialized therapy this program offers.

Last week, the team returned and gave us their report. Yes, he definitely needs therapy for behavior/play, speech and also, occupational therapy.

I know, it sounds kind of strange to say that an 18-month-old will be receiving "occupational therapy" but this is a form of physical therapy but a bit more specialized for his needs.

I don't know who the therapist will be for the occupational (physical) therapy but lucky for us, he will have the same two therapists for behavior/play and speech that Maya had. And, if they are as successful in working with him as they were with Maya, I'm confident that Kurtis too will have an excellent outlook from their application of their skills with him.

Autism is a strange disorder but something I do want to stress here is that it is not an automatic guarantee that a child diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum will be unable to do anything, unable to learn, to function properly. I'm not saying that there are not cases were that does indeed happen. Sadly, yes it can be a very difficult disorder for all concerned - the child, the family - to deal with. But, one thing that seems to be a key to getting the ability to move with the best foot forward is to get therapy - whatever type is deemed necessary - started as early in the child's life as is possible.

So, if you have a child and you think he or she is not achieving what are considered to be the normal things in a child's developmental process, please for the child's sake, as well as your own, do not be afraid to ask your physician about these things. Request a referral as soon as possible to have the child tested for developmental delays, for indicators that could be early signs of autism. And, if your doctor -unlike ours - pooh-poohs your concerns and you still have a "gut" feeling something isn't right, don't be afraid to push - shove if you have to - to get the help that is available for the child to have the best help possible.

Find literature to read, videos to watch, inquire about what programs ARE available in your area.

Trust me, you won't regret it and neither will your child.


Patois said...

You're doing a great service, getting the word out. Those kids are blessed to have you.

Keith said...

I second patois comments. It is obvious through your posts how much you love your entire family and they are so lucky to have you.

I worked at a camp called Camp Barnabas in Missouri the summer of 2006 and spent a week with mentally disabled kids from the ages of 7-17. Downs Syndrome, autism, etc.

It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Those kids are special and crave love and attention, and give back twice what you give to them.

Keep doing what you're doing for Maya and Kurtis and they will grow up to be great folk with your influence.

Be blessed!

SnoopMurph said...

Hi Jeni,

I wrote a huge comment and I think it was erased (probably me) so if two similar comments pop up, you know why.

This post is near and dear to my heart. My son was also diagnosed with autism and he is only 18 months old too. But the best thing is getting help for this little guys at such an early age. From all that parents have said, early intervention does wonders for their progress.

My son will begin OT next week, as well as developmental(play)therapy and speech therapy soon. Our schedules are turned upside down by all the evaluations, phonecalls and paperwork we are doing and that in itself is a challenge, but knowing that help is on the way, we are feeling much calmer.

And I second that notion-you must follow through when you think something is not right. You know your child best and you have to be proactive and then some to find the answers and help they need. We were very close to probably not doing much at all if not for our pediatrician.

For my son, he really doesn't have any speech except GO. He doesn't understand how to communicate and sometimes he appears completely uninterested. We are working on sign language now, but it is a long and repetitious road we are on. I try to look for the good and happy moments of the days or I could really get myself bogged down!

Great post and thank you. It is GREAT to know that you have blogger friends who can relate!

Theresa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Great job with the kids, especially for encouraging your daughter to move quickly to have Kurtis tested.

Congratulations for the award too Jeni. I told you before, I don't know anyone w/as many as you:-)


Theresa said...

I deleted my first comment, because I am not sure it captured the sentiment I wanted to convey about your blog.

Your willingness to share your stories is fantastic- because it is only through educating people can success happen.

Jeni said...

To all of you - thanks for the great words, vote of confidence, as it where.
To you too - and anyone anywhere commenting - speak your mind, and don't be afraid to do that! Whether it be in comment on my blog or others, say what you feel and don't fear repercussions from it as your true intent will shine through, for sure!
And I sure do appreciate having friends like I do in my blog arena!