When I started this blog, it was intended to share stories about Shaun, recipes and so on with the family and friends who can't be here to share them in person. And now as we're about to start a whole new journey, it seems like a great way to record the triumphs that I am confident will follow. In my last blog, I mentioned Shaun would be going to a speech evaluation. The evaluation came and went, and it was determined he was at a 15 month level with the words he uses, and around 9 months or so on his understanding. It was also discovered that he had several red flags for autism. And after several meetings, evaluations and so on, this past Tuesday Shaun was officially diagnosed with autism. On top of the speech class he was already placed in, he will soon be starting ABA therapy (http://www.brighttots.com/aba_therapy) and occupational therapy as well. Everyone we have met with has told us he has some awesome skills working for him and they think he will do really well with the therapies...we know it's going to be a long road, but we know he can do it.
For those who do not know, autism is a broad spectrum, and the severity and specific characteristics vary by each individual. The diagnosis is made based on three main categories: speech/communication, social interaction and repetitive behaviors. Shaun's speech issues are fairly obvious- you can read the last blog for more info on that. Shaun is actually more social than some might expect an autistic child to be, BUT when you look a little closer you realize he is behind socially. He will make eye contact, but you have to fight to get and keep it most of the time. We have recently figured out he has better eye contact when doing physical activity. He also will only bring things to us when he needs our help, not because he wants to share with us and so on. As far as repetitive behaviors for those who have seen videos of Shaun, you've probably noticed that he runs in circles a lot. He will watch the same movies (or parts of it) over and over and over again. He does flap his arms some, but not too bad there. And we realized too that oftentimes when playing with cars and so on, he does focus more on one part (wheels on a car, propeller on a helicopter) than on the whole toy. There are more of all but you get the idea. And when you put all of this together, you reach the diagnosis. Below are a few useful links if anyone is interested in learning more.
So, while I still plan on sharing cute Shaun stories, recipes and all that, I also hope to use this blog so that we can look back at where he is now, and see how far he has come.