Our Story

Psalm 139

“Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works. My soul also you knew full well; nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made in secret, when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.” NAB

I think of this verse with each ultra-sound I have seen of a baby in the womb and although I haven’t done it yet, I plan on taking all my children’s ultra-sound pictures and framing them with this verse.

Each of our 4 children have been a precious gift and blessing from the Lord to my husband Bryan and me. We have two beautiful, smart girls, Sarah, born in 1999, and Rachel, born in 2001. We also have two handsome and bright boys, John Michael, born in 2004 and our Joshua, born in 2006. We have the perfect number for us; two girls and two boys. One child for each hand. Each child has a friend to play with whether the same gender or not.

Our journey with Joshua on the road of autism came about in the year 2008-2009, right after Joshua turned two years old. Joshua had his Well Child check in September, after his late July birthday. He was quite healthy, easy going and despite being quiet, he was quite aware of what went on in his surroundings and was a boy of few words, but a lot of action. Joshua reminded me of the Country song: “A little less talk and a lot more action”. Our family doctor was quite pleased with his development but had one concern. “How many words does he speak?” I had to stop and think about that. It was a long pause and she asked: “more or less than 20”? I told her we’d be lucky if he had 20. She said that if he wasn’t speaking more by 2 1/2, to get him in for a speech assessment. Now, since Joshua was the youngest, he didn’t have a need to talk to much as with the older kids, he would have a tough time getting a word in edge-wise.

To be honest, I didn’t want to admit anything was wrong with Joshua. I had heard him talk earlier on, gradually adding words and I could tell he was mimicking words that we read to him from some of this favorite books. Sarah had even taught him a little sign language. However, he was doing less talking of any kind and after the 2 1/2 stage had passed, and then a few more months past when I finally set Joshua up at Seattle Children’s Hospital for a Speech Assessment. We were “frequent flyers” at Children’s as Sarah was going to physical therapy twice a week after having had knee surgery in January of 2009.

Speech Assessment and Red Flags

Joshua’s assessment was scheduled for early May 2009 and it was at that appointment that I first heard the word “autism” in association him. It was clear he had a speech delay, but in talking to the speech therapist about his behaviors, she asked to have a co-worker come and join us as a consultant. After talking with Anita W., she informed me that Joshua had several “red flags” for having Autism. I was taken aback. Sure, Joshua had some odd behaviors, but doesn’t every child have some odd behaviors of some sort? Okay, well, perhaps not as many that he was presenting. Joshua was afraid of ceiling fans, elevators, loud noises such as the hair dryer and vacuum. He also liked to sleep on the floor, under his bed, on the dresser, or the kitchen table. He liked to run in circles, a lot, and liked spinning the propeller of Harold the Helicopter. He dumped the book cases and toys, and laundry and loved to get held tightly by me, especially when we played on the floor. He’d come up and push me down and lay on top of me. Of course, when that happened, his older brother, Michael, would join in and lay on top of him so I could have a “Joshie and Michael Sandwich”. That would entail me tickling and nibbling on ears as I pretended to eat the tender morsels of yummy boys. Another indicator Joshua had was that he avoided eye contact. Now, I didn’t notice that as much with family, as we are familiar, and those he was around, he did make eye contact, but primarily, he parallel played with others and was at a year level in his expressive language.

I left that appointment with several recommended tasks to address: Get Joshua on the waiting list for the Autism Center for an ADOS assessment (The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule), which is, according to Western Psychology Services,

the “gold standard” for assessing and diagnosing autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder across ages, developmental level and language skills;

Also, get Joshua signed up for speech therapy as soon as possible; get an occupational therapy assessment done; and look into getting him into developmental pre-school. Okay! Being a former Case Worker in Children’s Mental Health for 10 years, it was not difficult to get on the phone and start making appointments.

This was just the start of our journey…