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Our Journey Through the Spectrum

Our Journey Through the Spectrum

The Autism Spectrum (ASD) is many things, but mostly it is a complex and layered journey that many of us parents embark upon unknowingly until it’s time to take action. I’m a boy mom of two loving little guys. An amazing 6-year-old, diagnosed as nonverbal and a level 3 on the spectrum at 2 years old, and an awesome 4-year-old boy who hasn’t been diagnosed with ASD. I began to see signs in my son after about 13 months old when language and certain gestures such as waving and eye contact began to decline. Although there was evidence of the decline, so many levels of the journey had not been discussed with me. Resources for ABA therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech therapy, and even testing seemed scarce with information being inconclusive due to a lack of conversation on ASD. After the diagnosis, I went through phases of guilt, fear, and doubt before accepting that I had no control over the outcome, but had a lot of steps that I could take for the future. I did a lot of self-reflecting to conclude there is no straightforward answer as to why it happened, but it’s best not to internalize his diagnosis for my processing over finding beneficial methods. For us, ASD was a family diagnosis, meaning the entire family involved plays a part. At first thought, isolation seemed logical for avoiding judgments or overstated opinions on things that are out of their norms. However, the best things I ever did were talk, build networks, and educate myself with others who have similar realities! Ask questions, take up space, and be a voice for the children whenever needed! 

I began in the field of ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapy as a Registered Behavioral Therapist (RBT) over a year ago, and gained countless examples of how many families have the same thoughts, questions, and obstacles to overcome when finding what works best for their children. For my RBT position, I am in direct one-on-one contact with children by teaching skills for social interaction, behavioral momentum, potty training, functional usage for many things throughout environments, and much more. The settings for ABA therapy can be in a home, school, daycare, or clinic and are based on family needs/desires. Being an RBT has pros, such as seeing the growth of the child, and cons (i.e. there are no specified time frames per child for learning the skills presented during therapy). As a parent, I found comfort in knowing my family’s norm was not isolated, but instead, there are more similarities in our children on the spectrum than differences. No child is the same and their needs vary per situation. There’s a need for attention, love, and guidance like any other child. However, there is an extra amount of grace and patience that we gain when learning about our children with ASD and their needs. As an RBT, I have gained confidence in what consistency, schedules, and learning motivators can do to help lessen undesired behaviors and increase desirable behaviors. Most behaviors are impulse-based with autism and need repetitive redirection and correcting to be acknowledged by the child.  

Being a parent of a child who is neurodivergent, I have learned that the world will always be different from their eyes, but there’s always life to be spoken to them and for their future. My son has grown open to so many aspects of social play and interacting over time such as puzzles, block building, catching/throwing a ball, dance parties, and even an occasional movie. Also, we have had an intriguing journey finding foods that he likes and usually end up being the same meals/items all the time. If you haven’t already found ways of educating, assimilating, or even meeting others who also deal with ASD I say start today! I’ve had many sleepless nights, hard mornings, and even harder times being out in public, but they are all worth it realizing that each time we are one step closer to finding our children’s peace in the world! 

 

Written by: Shamaria McMurtry, RBT 

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