I remember when I was first pregnant with my 12-year-old son, Peter. We had no idea what parenting actually meant… yet. Endless hours were spent on creating a perfect nursery for our soon to be born son, Peter. I love great packaging and we settled on a bedding collection called Womb with a View from a now extinct retailer, Land Of Nod. My husband and I even made it through one Lamaze class before I decided I could breathe just fine without instruction.
No amount of classes, books or advice could ever have prepared me for what motherhood had in store. Staying up through all hours of the night with a colicky baby or receiving a medical diagnosis for your own child with no clear path forward and limited support, that is when parenting tests you and begins.
When Peter arrived on January 4, 2006 (our wedding anniversary!) at 38 weeks, he was healthy as can be, weighing in at 10lbs, 5 ounces and nearly 23 inches long. I was fortunate to have the ability to “pause” working to be at home those early days. We attended weekly outings + playdates with other new moms.
We moved to Atlanta when Peter was going on 8 months old and around this time I started to notice how too “perfect” a baby Peter was compared to the babies in the playgroups. He was too quiet, didn’t fuss and too content on his own.
At 9 months old, I raised my concerns to our first Pediatrician in GA who told me I was neurotic. I had no data or any concrete facts to back up my thinking outside something just felt very wrong. I left that Pediatrician’s office and found a new one who agreed to explore my concerns with a more in-depth evaluation at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. While his gross motor skills were on target, his speech (babbling) was not. We were referred to a Developmental Pediatrician and after a lengthy evaluation, we learned Peter was on the Autism Spectrum. Not only was it a humbling moment for me to quickly undo stereotypes in my mind, I cannot tell you how many people including our own family said he doesn’t “look” like he has Autism. People were quick to give advice with no experience or having spent time with us.
Before Peter was 18 months, he was receiving therapy three days a week: Speech, Occupational Therapy, and Music Therapy. It is important to note a diagnosis(s) is not typically made until a child reaches 24 months and a child’s brain is very malleable the first three years. By the time most parents receive a diagnosis, process it and start therapy, a child is already approaching 3. Early intervention is critical to making a substantial impact.
With no clear “best” path for his education, we worked and continue to work closely with the school to ensure Peter’s best interests are being met. While private school would have been the easy route to ensure Peter had what he needed, we believe enough in the public school system he will have the resources he needs to be successful. The diversity in classmates and learning to adjust to different circumstances as necessary has played a vital role in Peter’s success. My husband Matt and I very proud today that Peter is in 6th grade and excelling in all advanced classes and plays the trumpet with his school band with accommodations. This would not be possible without the support of our doctors, school district, the teachers, and staff.
Through our two beautiful boys my husband and I are blessed with, I have learned to trust my gut instinct because nothing beats a mom’s intuition… ever.
As moms, we want the very best for our kids and that includes keeping them healthy. But with our ultra-busy lives, finding solutions to our biggest parenting challenges can be overwhelming. That’s why Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta created Strong4Life.com.
Join us for the sixth annual Strong4Life Superhero Sprint on Saturday, June 2, 2018. Wear your favorite superhero gear and use your superpowers to walk, run or sprint to the finish line of this 5K, 1-mile fun run at Piedmont Park! All proceeds benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Strong4Life.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Originally published at medium.com