We identified months ago that our middle child and first son, Stockton Luke, has some behaviors and developmental delays consistent with autism. We tried speech therapy from 2 years of age, got his hearing tested, and had early development services in our home. Nothing was dramatically increasing his development though, so we decided to go ahead and get him evaluated for autism and/or other developmental issues. We had to wait four months for the appointment at a special clinic in Omaha (Munroe-Meyer Institute), but it was worth the wait because they are experts at MMI and provide extensive, comprehensive resources to children and families in these circumstances.
Based on Stockton's young age and positive response to some of the techniques/intervention they tried during the evaluation, the doctors and specialists really feel positive that Stockton is a great candidate for intensive therapy. They recommended 20-25 hours (!!!) a week, at MMI, with specially trained professionals. That is overwhelming to me - the time commitment is a part time job! An hour away! When I have two other needy children! Woah. But the wait list for that program is 6-9 months, so that won't happen right away. In the mean time, there are many resources and agencies and programs that can help, and we are in the process of contacting/being contacted by them and figuring out our game plan. I think the next two years are going to be intense, but everyone seemed extremely confident that we would see some major progress and get Stockton on the right track.
The future is the scariest part for me - what will school look like for him? How will his behavior, speech, emotions, development change? What can we expect as far as being able to be "normal:" school sports? grades? music lessons? church? Heck, being able to hold a conversation? There are so many unknowns that I mostly don't focus on the future - I am committed to doing what's best for Stockton at every age and stage, as I am with my other children, so I think it's important to stay grounded in what is happening now instead of getting carried away with so many "what-ifs."
People have asked me how I feel about Stockton being "labeled" now - I think labels help us decide the best route to take and can offer some insight into behavior, but ultimately Stockton is still STOCKTON and we love him and accept him exactly as he is, while striving to reach his full potential. We hope everyone around him will feel the same. I said a longgggg prayer on my way home from this appointment, and one of the things that I felt a lot of peace about was making the decision now to not be over-sensitive. People handle things differently, they process information differently, and they may say things that could be offensive or off-putting, but I think it is important to have understanding from all sides and make this as un-dramatic as possible, including my reactions to what people say and do about Stockton. I'm certainly going to advocate for my son and not tolerate disrespectful or harmful behavior, should he experience those, but I'm hopeful that Stockton will continue to be surrounded only by support and acceptance and love.
^^This is Stockton before he was diagnosed // This is Stockton after he was diagnosed
still my blue-eyed blonde-haired beautiful special boy (tired and sweaty from playing outside)
We all have issues, we all have weaknesses, and we all have strengths. We are grateful that we get to go through this journey with Stockty - he is such a blessing in our family, despite the challenging parts. We are better because of him, and hope that we can continue to grow and learn and understand together.