Shortly after her birth, the midwife sat on my bed with a sad look on her face and told me there was something “funny looking” with her feet. We looked together. Three of the toes on her left foot were cut off at the last joint – the probable result of an amniotic band she must have become entangled in. No big deal. They suspected she might not want to wear sandals as she got older, but it should not effect her ability to walk or balance.
We thought that was the extent of it. But as our beautiful daughter began to grow, we started noticing some delays. She did not learn to crawl until after her first birthday. She did not walk until she was two. And it wasn’t just physical delays that we noticed. She did not make eye contact, she talked to us in a sing-song voice, she referred to herself in the third person, and she repeated the same phrases over and over.
Like most parents, we just thought our daughter was a little weird. We thought it was a quirky phase she would grow out of.
Once she started wearing glasses, things seemed to improve very quickly. She started catching up to other kids her age. But then she plateaued again. That is when we decided to take her to see the developmental paediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP).
Two weeks ago, we got a diagnosis. Our daughter is on the Autism Spectrum.We’ve experienced a range of emotions since finding this out, but mostly what we feel is relief. Before, I felt so confused. I knew we needed help but I did not know where to start. Now, there is a whole new world of help and resources that have opened to our family.
April is Autism Awareness Month. Autism affects 1 in 68 children. If you know someone whose child may be on the spectrum, talk to them. Let them know there are many resources available to them. Let them know they are not alone. And most importantly, let them know that they and their child are loved.