Our Journey with Autism

It was year 2014 when my eldest son was diagnosed of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). I don’t know what I felt that time, but I didn’t cry nor questioned God.

He was 4 years, old late diagnosis that’s what the doctor told us. But how do we know? We thought it was just normal for our son who speaks little words because he has no playmates to interact with. Maybe he was just speech delay just like his cousin. He communicates to us by just pointing what he wants. Physically, he looks normal. When I’m teaching him he doesn’t listen, he does his own way. It actually didn’t crossed our mind that maybe our son is special.

We did what the doctor advised us to do. We send him to intervention center and therapy. But it was never easy. My husband and I had a lot of challenges.

Financially with intervention and therapy expenses, it was like we have a college student already.

He made an improvement on the first intervention center where we enrolled him. But on his second year, every time I prepare him for school he’s throwing tantrums. And I noticed that he shows fear on one of the teacher there. Also he shows no improvement that is why we decided to transfer him to another intervention center located in Lipa City, Batangas. Though it’s far away from our house in Tanauan Batangas, it didn’t matter as long as we give him his needs. I was working that time and really love my job and my husband is managing our small business. Since his schedule is more flexible, he’s the one sending him to school.

My son shows slow improvement. It was like investing on business with slow moving profit. Teachers are having a hard time to communicate with him. He has selective mutism an anxiety disorder in which he communicates only with us (his family) and only whispers to his teachers. Aside from that, he is also echolalia which he repeats what someone else has said.

This was really challenging for us as parents and also with the teachers and therapist. We suggested to let his younger brother to accompany him during therapy and use his brother as a tool to let him speak loudly. His brother was only 3 years old that time but is very friendly and talkative. Few sessions of therapy and he has shown improvement. He talks to his therapist confidently on a normal pitch.

He was seven years old when we decided to transfer him to a much better intervention center located in Calamba, Laguna. This time I decided to quit my job to focus on my two boys.

Leaving my job was like breaking up with a serious relationship. It was really hard for me to move on but I have to. I have to be hands on with my kids specially to my eldest since our goal is to move him up from intervention to regular schooling, I make follow ups schooling in our house. I became a housewife/teacher.

Dealing with his meltdown is also difficult. He spits on his teacher, has a stimming behaviour changing from one after another. When he is frustrated he hits himself or me. There was never a meltdown that I am not scratched or bruised. Most of the morning he wakes up on a bad mood. And I am very thankful if he wakes up in a good mood.

Good thing, his new intervention center has parent support and taught us how to deal with our child’s behaviour. With Applied Behaviour approach and other kinds of techniques they’ve taught me, his behaviour improved. He no longer spits, his stimming is controllable and he still frustrated sometimes but it is more manageable now and he no longer hits himself or me. He learns how to compromise. He knows how to take care of himself.

Looking back writing this blog, all the sacrifices we made is all worth it. He is now 10 years old, still a work in progress. Autism is a lifetime disorder, but with therapy, support and love he will overcome all the challenges in this life. It will not be easy but I believe he can.   

-sonya manuel-

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