Aimee Thorn - Autism Parent
I would like to say that we were surprised when Anniston received her autism diagnosis but unfortunately, we were not.
Anniston was a much different child than her brother from the very beginning. Even while pregnant with her, there were so many differences. She was not as “excited” as her brother and didn’t kick around much and she would get so irritated when there were loud noises. I remember a moment when having an ultrasound and she began kicking the probe on my belly because it appeared she didn’t want to be bothered. From the get-go, we knew she was different than what we were used to.
Once she was born, we had already set the expectation that every child is not the same and that she was just going to have a different temperament than her brother who is incredibly outgoing, goofy, likable, charming, and truly a people person. Anniston was the exact opposite of that the moment she was born. She has marched to her own drum from day one and that was something we noticed pretty quickly.
Anniston hated to have her arms swaddled in her blankets, disliked loud noises, was not a fan of other people besides her parents and brother, and truly just wanted to be left alone. She began hitting her milestones as she should physically, but she wasn’t much of a talker and did not have a lot of expression. I noticed this when she was around 7 months old but thought she may just be delayed.
As time went on, her first birthday was really when things began making more sense. While her family was singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her, she began hitting her head against her highchair the entire time. She was definitely not enjoying her birthday at that moment. After the party my husband and I sat down and began to talk about what we needed to do. We knew in our gut that were going to begin the process of trying to determine if autism was a part of our journey. My husband was more hesitant and thought maybe, just maybe, she was behind, and it would all fix itself with time, but I knew. I knew it in my heart that this was what we were facing.
I immediately called our pediatrician and got an appointment. Dr. Schell was patient and understanding and truly listened to our concerns. He agreed that we needed to move forward with additional testing. We visited Murray State and had an evaluation with Dr. Sean Simons and that day we left with the autism diagnosis. I will never forget the feeling on the drive home. I was mad, sad, confused, overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to do or how to parent a child with special needs. I knew we were scheduled for evaluations for therapies that I knew nothing about and never thought we would experience.
We began OT and Developmental Intervention through First Steps, Speech and additional OT with Sensory Solutions and many hours of at home therapy pretty much immediately. The amount of research and articles and books that I read was nonstop and constant. I wanted to know everything about autism that I could, and I found that the beauty of autism is that everyone is different and beautiful in their own spectacular way.
Anniston was diagnosed at 16 months; she was the youngest child to be diagnosed with autism at Murray State at that time. She was considered severe and that led to many more discoveries. She was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, which led to her having to wear a helmet for a few years to protect her from head banging. She will forever hate certain textures, dislike large crowds, want to play alone, and can be brutally honest with her lack of social skills.
Everyday is a new day and although some days are harder than others, we have learned that autism is a very special journey to be on. Families on the Spectrum has been a resource for our family since day one and we are forever grateful for that.
Anniston is a spunky, loving, smart, and brave girl. She is loved fiercely by all who know her. I have no doubt that she will thrive and move mountains.