First signs something was wrong
Erika and Steve first noticed something was different with their son Blaise when he was 18 months old. Erika recalled, “He went to daycare and we would go in and notice that all the kids are playing in one area and he’s over to an area by himself. He always did individual play.”
That wasn’t the only thing she noticed. She shared that one of the most telling signs that something was wrong was when she dropped Blaise off at daycare. The other children would cry for their moms with intention and Blaise would just cry. “He wouldn’t cry for me, he wouldn’t cry Mama Mama.” Erika recalled.
Steve noticed Blaise was delayed in speech and was missing developmental milestones. He noticed a few more things which he shared saying, “Some of the behaviors, he would get fixated on say ipad or you know one particular thing and then he would stay on it. He also made these peculiar noises like all day long.”
After searching on google, Steven thought that Blaise had some of the same signs and symptoms of someone who has Autism.
Getting an ASD diagnosis
Most doctors will not give an autism diagnosis at 18 months. Erika and Steven were able to get connected with a company that helped Blaise get early intervention services as well as getting into a developmental preschool.
After Blaise attended the preschool for a little bit, Erika and Steven worked with another company to get a formal diagnosis when Blaise was 2.5 years old.
Being labeled as ASD was the fear
Erika shared an interesting perspective about receiving her son’s diagnosis. By the time he was formally diagnosed she shared that her and Steven had already accepted the fact Blaise was different and had autism. Erika was afraid of what a formal diagnosis would mean for the care Blaise would receive.
She shared, “My biggest fear, I didn’t want to get a diagnosis, even though we believed he had autism because in my mind I didn’t want them to stick him in a box.”
She continued, “Once he was labeled then that’s all the care he’s going to get. He was only going to get autism care and an autism teacher…and it’s a bigger world than that and I wanted him to have all the exposure that he could have.”
To help ensure Blaise wasn’t put in a box, Erika started working at the school Blaise was enrolled in. She gave a great example of how she has helped keep Blaise progressing. She shared, “Because he has autism and because he has sensory issues..they put headphones on him, because that’s what he needs. When we have assemblies, I go in the assemblies and I take the headphones off…let’s see if he can push through it. Don’t just give it to him because he has autism.”
Steve shared that he feels like when some parents have a diagnosis, they automatically put up a glass ceiling of what their child is capable of. Not even trying things because of the child’s label. “We wanted to treat him as regular as possible, give him the same experiences as regular children.”
Loving your child for who they are
Regardless of his disability, Steve said that he and Erika have loved, supported, and accepted Blaise for who he is. He said, “Don’t give up, once you get that diagnosis, it’s not a death sentence. Just focus on the early intervention, focus on the things that you can control and then eventually things turn out ok.”
Erika and Steve both shared their joys of having Blaise as a son, Erika shared, “Just when he meets those little milestones…he had to work four times harder to do something that comes naturally to someone else.”
Steve shared his joy saying, “I remember the first time he walked up to me with no prompts or anything and said, “Daddy I love you.” He looked me dead in the eye, and I was like “wow”.” Being able to see Blaise work towards a goal and accomplish it has been very rewarding for both Erika and Steve.