Friday, April 30, 2010

Life with D, what an adventure

Here it goes...
My wife and I are proud parents of two beautiful boys. My older son, Diego, just turned 4 in March and our second son, Adrian, will be one year old in May. I started this blog because I would like to reach out to others who are in a similar situation as us and because I would like to be able to use this as an update for those who are inclined to follow.
Diego is on the autistic spectrum. He was specifically diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS). Life with him has been adventerous since he was born in March of 2006. To be honest I did not know much about autism when we received the diagnosis and remember feeling surprised more than anything else. I saw him as a boy who just required more attention than other kids and figured his speech delay was something that was temporary. I remember thinking, "he'll talk when he's ready" and "the tantrums and crying will subside as he gets older". Well that was not the case.
We quickly realized that he needed help and started speech, ABA, and occupational therapy in the home through the Early Intervention Program. We live in one of NYC's 5 boroughs and the appointments, interviews, and "observations" started immediately. The program was great. We noticed how good his memory was and how quickly he would learn when he would work with his therapists. The only problem was a lot of the time he resisted the therapists and all of their efforts to establish a connection with him. When he says "no", it is by far the most aggressive stance I have ever seen in another individual. We weren't really sure how to proceed even though we knew how nice it was to be able to have our son in this program. He really fought the hardest with his speech therapists. That was tough to see and be a part of because we knew how important it was for him to receive that particular therapy. We decided to try a different therapist but then could not find anyone to fit our schedule (at this time both my wife and I were working full time). Diego introduced a whole new level of resistance on his second speech therapist and our frustration mounted. We made it through sessions but with a lot of crying and tantrums. As I said before, the Early Intervention program is great, we just did not have a lot of success with speech therapy. After only a few months of Early Intervention, we made sure to have all of our meetings and paperwork ready for him to attend preschool. That process included meetings with a representative from the school board and updated evaluations of Diego from his therapists. Spots in these schools fill up fast and after touring a few options we decided on a school and program that we really were excited about. However, we were extremely nervous and stressed in the months leading up to the start of the school year. The preschool we chose is for 3-5 year olds and is Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm
We weren't ready to let him start but at the same time everyone was telling us how important it is to expose him to other children so he could become more social, and how the routine of school is beneficial to children on the spectrum. That was easy for someone to say but not as easy for us to follow through with...
In future posts I will discuss his transition to school and more information on his early years as well... see you soon...

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