- Posted March 29, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Life with autism: Share your story
I always knew he was special
I always knew that my Fisher was special.
He has always been the quiet one, so easygoing, the one who doesn’t mind what the events of the day will bring. He loves to read, to color and do puzzles. He doesn’t mind playing by himself, and it doesn’t bother him if his younger siblings are getting more attention than he is. Fisher is just happy.
I always knew that he was special, but that still didn’t prepare me for the outcome of his visit to the University of Utah Department of Health two years ago. You see, at age two, Fisher wasn’t talking. Not one word. Once in a blue moon he would surprise us by repeating a word we had said, but it was nothing consistent and definitely not any kind of communication. We began working with a state program in hopes of getting Fisher to start talking, and they suggested we have Fisher evaluated.
That led us to the university, where we first met with Dr. Winter, a developmental pediatrician. My husband, Wayne, and I thought she was wonderful. She evaluated Fisher and discussed some of his unusual characteristics with us: Fisher didn’t talk, he didn’t point, and if he didn’t know you very well, he wouldn’t make eye contact. He would look at you out of the corner of his eyes from time to time. As a result of these characteristics, we were encouraged to see a psychologist.
We met with Dr. Natalie Roth on February 11, 2010. She was sweet, kind, and great with Fisher. She gave him a puzzle that she said was a little advanced for a two- or three-year old, but Fisher had it figured out in less than a minute. We weren’t surprised – Fisher had always been good at puzzles. Dr. Roth watched Fisher for two hours and then informed us that many of Fisher’s characteristics were “out of the ordinary.” She explained that what we thought was an independent streak was really Fisher’s tendency to give greater importance to objects rather than people. Fisher, she explained, uses people as tools to get what he wants rather than for social interaction. Fisher prefers to figure things out on his own, even if he’s playing with other people.
The visit opened our eyes, and although we always assumed Fisher had some sort of social disability, I still wasn’t prepared for what came next. Dr. Roth told us Fisher most likely had Autistic Spectrum Disorder, or PDD. At the time, I didn’t know many families with autistic children and no one in my family, not even cousins, have an autistic child. Those words hit me, and I was overwhelmed with emotion and grief.
For the first time, I cried for my son. I love him so much, and just want the best for him. I want him to know that he is loved, to have friends, go to college, get married, and have children. I longed for the day when my son could talk, could tell me that he loves me and actually mean it!
I am so thankful that we overcame our fears and denials and had him evaluated when we did. Today, Fisher is an active, fun-loving four year old. He attends a special ABA program where he is learning to talk and communicate. He still isn’t where he should be developmentally, but he is improving and growing every day. He is becoming more social and interacts more with his peers. He is a great big brother and adores being around people. What a blessing it is that more and more people are aware of autism, and that more programs are available for families. Without them, I don’t know where my son would be right now.
It was a difficult diagnosis, but Fisher is an amazing little boy and he melts my heart every day. He loves to cuddle with me and he loves to laugh with me. He has even started to tell me he loves me every day. I know that Fisher will do amazing things. He has already taught me so much! I watch my special boy and I know that he is growing into something great