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An_240010 posted:
I have an 18 month old son, Michael. He is child number 3 out of 4. We recently took him to see a neurologist. She basically asked us a bunch of questions about his growth development. He is behind in everything by 7-9 months. I read to him. I play with him. I talk to him. He spaces out a lot and it seems like he doesn't hear me when I call him. His hearing is fine so I know it isn't that. He doesn't socialize well with my older sons, but my second son seems very protective of him so he stays close to him anyway. He gets him anything he wants whether it is a snack, a drink, or a toy he lets me know to get it for him. He is very affectionate with me though and he does play peak a boo sometimes. He started off okay when he was a year old, but as he has gotten older he has been regressing. I hate not knowing what to do for him and having to wait so long to find out what could be the problem. She believes he exhibits a lot of signs of autism. Starting next week he will be seeing 3 therapist for 8 weeks to confirm her diagnosis.


I was just wondering what to expect and if there is anything I should look out for.
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pmw68 responded:
Dear Finding Out,

I'm sorry I haven't replied sooner. I see that WebMD finally allows a weekly activity newletter that can alert me to new posts. You are the main reason for me setting up this group and I feel badly that it took me so long to respond.

First of all, if your son gets diagnosed with autism, there is an adjustment period for you and your husband. Many expectations, that most parents take for granted, will change. This is neither good or bad. One of the biggest things I need to tell you is that your son's diagnosis is not because you did or didn't do something. It is just who he is. Your job is just to love him and help him.
What to expect:
I'm assuming you are in a birth to three program in your state. If not, you need to call them. They will do an evaluation of your son's deficits. Once accepted, you will be an equal team member in the development of your son's services. An individualized family service plan (IFSP) will be developed. It will list the services your son is entitled to. Many doctors are prescriptive in their suggestions or methods of help. You need to tell the team how your son learns, what is the best method and how you engage your son. Service hours are important but only if they are well spent and effective. Also, sometimes you won't get what you don't ask for. Know your son's rights for appropriate help. Some of the areas to discuss: Special education services (how your child can learn appropriate developmental behaviors and begin to learn essential skills for progression) - usually behavioral methods are used like ABA (applied behavioral analysis), Floortime (Dr. Greenspan) or RTI methods. Your son's personality will be able to tell you the best method. Most therapists use ABA because it is "research based" and is "measurable". However, for social engagement, many therapists resort to the floortime or RTI methods of teaching. Socialization is a huge part of the diagnosis. What is important to you, for your child to learn? Tell your team. Occupational therapy is important to work on any sensory issues (texture, fine motor/grasp, loud noises, proprioceptive/equilibrium) - this is important because these issues will cause obstacles in your child's ability to fully learn. They are very distracting. Physical therapy is important for problems with gross motor skills (your son's muscle tone and/or trunk of his body needs to be developed in order to eventually walk, sit at a desk or participate in PE with his typical peers - an important part of socialization). Speech is recommended when your child is repeating phrases (echolalia) or can't talk at all. The speech program will give your child tools to communicate with you to prevent frustration (some examples are a picture system - PECS, sign language). Other possible areas to consider are asking about the ability to participate in a play group or a swim class. If the need is there, the state should write it in the plan and incur the costs. Just make sure everything is written down.
Once your child turns 3, he will be transitioned (provided he is still eligible) to a early education pre-school. The IFSP turns into an IEP (Individualized education plan). The IEP works the same way as the IFSP. You will have a different team to work with.
My best advice is to trust your gut and to take things day by day. The above is an outline of how to set up your child's day/week through thearpies. The best thing I've discovered is, through all my time trying to teach my own son, he is teaching me the most. These children have feelings and thoughts and incredible personalities.

I hope this wasn't too overwhelming and this helped a little bit.


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