Years ago, almost 47, my daughter was born. For whatever reason, she was born very fast and her lips, fingers, and toes would turn blue. She was put in an incubator for the week-end to be monitored. Not finding anything wrong with her, she was released from the hospital the first of the week. We continued to watch her with the pediatrician's guidance. She had a hard time swallowing her formula and became colicky.Sleeping during the day and crying all night.
About this time my pediatrician recommended I take her to Boston for testing, and every doctor in Boston diagnosed her with their particular specialty.
She was diagnosed as aphasic, autistic, retarded, just to name a few labels.
We started to see a psychologist in Boston for play therapy.
We would drive the 90 minutes every Monday afternoon. Did it help? I don't know.
My other children were completely normal, so I was not sure what was happening to my little girl. We enrolled her in a nursery school for retarded children near our home, where she started to develop some social skills. But she did not talk. She would point if she wanted something and seemed to understand commands. She used to rock in her crib and in the car. She would also drool a lot. But she did not look different. She did not get toilet trained until she saw that her younger brother was not wearing a diaper any more and then she trained herself in 2 days. She also had a very hard time eating her food; everything had to be very soft.
After a couple of years, her teacher told me that she did not think she was retarded because of her ability to do certain things, but would not talk. At that time a local couple was starting a school in our town for children with speech problems. Fortunately my daughter was accepted as a student. She attended school there until the school closed down, about eight years later.
In the meantime I had heard about a psychologist in the local area that did great work with children with problems. I was not happy with the results received from the doctor in Boston, so I made an appointment with this doctor in the local area. He worked with the children through school work, Mostly through reading and math.
In the beginning he worked with my daughter and myself, 3 and 4 sessions a week, sometimes 2-3 hours at a time. After the language school closed, from lack of funds, she was mainstreamed into public school, and the teacher was told to babysit her like some of the very challenged children, but our doctor got involved and wanted her in regular classes. He thought she would learn more from osmosis by being with regular students rather than being segregated.
This doctor had a very unique way of working with these children, sometimes going to a mall, sometimes taking them to a park or zoo. He even took them in groups to ride horses. All the time teaching them independence and giving them confidence in their ability to be successful.
After working with my daughter for 14 years he felt that she had come a long way. Through him I learned not to shelter and protect her as much. I also learned that she was much more capable than I had given her credit for. This is a little of the history of my daughter to help you have hope for your child. This was many years ago, long before very much had been known about autism. I'm still not sure if my daughter was autistic or emotionally disturbed. I'm just thankful that she has progressed so far.
I will continue to write more articles about autism, but to bring you up to date, my daughter has done very well. She graduated for high school, has a driving license and works two part-time jobs. She has fit into society and now has a few friends.