As I was perusing autism pages on Facebook, I was excited to find an article featured on Autism Speaks page. An article bringing tears to my eyes and this is why…
Study Confirms “Optimal Outcomes” is the title of the article. My one click to this article made my whole day, my whole week!! This is how it starts:
“Some children diagnosed with autism in early childhood reach “optimal outcomes” with levels of function similar to their typical peers. The findings appear today in theJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.”
Some children…Cali is a part of that some. On February 28, 2011, I would have paid any amount of money to have just one glimpse into the looking glass of Cali. To see her today. In fact if I could have looked forward to today, to this exact moment as I type I would see her working with Madi at our kitchen table doing an ABA style program to help her learn her sight words. If I could have looked into the glass and seen yesterday, I would have seen her playing with a new friend, laughing on and on over their little swinging game. If I could have looked ahead to last Sunday and seen Cali adjust to a new teacher for Sunday School, one who she had never met but only heard of, with no challenges or struggles only with acceptance and contentment. If I could have looked to the present and seen just days ago Cali walk to me with open arms and say, “I love you so much mommy!” while hugging me tightly. If only I had been able to see these things, I would have locked them deep inside my heart. Holding onto these views each and every day. Holding on for those early on days when Cali screamed and cried through the majority of a session. Holding on for that day I ask Dawn, “How long will it take until Cali can speak in sentences?” Holding on for those days when I was scared and worried and lost sight of my hope. These looks into the future would have told me if they could speak words…
Stay strong Chelsea. Cali is a beautiful girl who maybe right now struggles. Maybe right now doesn’t speak or look at you, but in two years time you will be amazed beyond any dream or hope you held for this little girl. She will succeed, she will grow, she will learn, and she will battle this autism until one day it is lost. Sure she may have bad days. Sure she may have a friend that calls her weird. Sure she may make the wrong choices. But don’t you have bad days? Didn’t you have that friend that called you weird or dumb on the playground? Is it not true that you make wrong choices daily? Stay strong Chelsea. You will be so glad you did.
My heart is so full right now. This article didn’t open my eyes to a new realization, it only validated what I already knew. From the day we knew something was awry with Cali, we went full speed ahead with therapy. Over the coarse of two years she has been involved with speech therapy, developmental therapy, occupational therapy, play group therapy, Play Project therapy, hippotherapy, and mainstream preschool. All of which supplied intervention early on. No, Cali was not on the severe end of the spectrum, but she was not high functioning either. She was somewhere in the middle. Either way doesn’t matter. Whether severe, high functioning, or somewhere in between, early intervention is ABSOLUTELY critical. Critical if you want to see a child gain potential “optimal outcomes”. Of course not every child will gain the highest “optimal outcomes” but why not give them the chance?
“We know that high-quality early intervention optimizes the outcome of individuals with autism,” comments Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Geri Dawson, Ph.D. “While only a minority of children will lose their diagnosis, this study shows that these positive outcomes are possible. This offers hope and underscores the need to continue to advocate for better access to early intervention for children with autism.”
We will never know where Cali would be today if she had not received early intervention. Quite honestly I don’t want to know. The thought actually scares me a bit. Scares me because of what I know and see today in Cali. To know that she is capable of living a life full of possibilities because of the choice we made to get her early intervention, is invaluable knowledge that cannot be measured and a choice we will never regret.
I am writing this because my heart is full of gratitude but also because I hope you will all share this with everyone you know. Share this with friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances. Why? Because I will never forget the day my sister shared her knowledge of early intervention with me. Knowledge that has now proven to help Cali, like the article says, to lose her diagnosis. Can you guess why my heart is so full!!!!!!