Some of them are the birthday party kind: full of wonder, delight, and gifts wrapped up bright; friends gleefully shout after quietly waiting, then start celebrating; and there's ice cream and cake, and wishes to make.
Others are accidents: bones breaking, cars crashing; lightning striking and flashing; a tornado's path or a hurricane's wrath; an earthquake's tumult or a random insult.
Then, there are those that don't fit into either of these categories; or perhaps they fit into both. This is the kind that our family is experiencing now.
No matter how hard you try, you can't totally plan for the unexpected; and with everything we knew and loved about our Nicholas, from his family members' verbal skills to his own amazingly sweet, loving, and demonstrative nature, there was no way we ever thought we'd have to plan for him being on "the Spectrum."
The Autism Spectrum, that is.
In case you aren't aware, autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how information is processed in the brain. It is called a "spectrum disorder" because it affects each person in different ways. It can range from very mild to severe. Early identification and early intervention are key, because certain developmental skills must be learned during critical periods of brain development.
As for sweet Nicholas...he was officially diagnosed on December 17th, 2013.
While we were waiting for his diagnosis, we had some preliminary assessments done by a developmental expert, and also both occupational and speech-language professionals. The developmental expert recommended assessment and therapy by the latter two, and also noted indicators of autism. The speech-language evaluation indicated severe delays in some areas, including those that impact social language use. The complete occupational report showed additional significant delays and signs of dyspraxia (among other things) were noted.
The past six months or so have involved a lot of reading and researching and learning for us, and there's still so much that we don't know.
What we DO know, right now, is that regardless of what has come or will come to light, it is certain that Nicholas is going to need some extra help. That extra help won't always be covered by insurance; and even when it is, there are still the copayments. When one accounts for a child attending at least four different sessions per week (1 each of speech-language and occupational for now, and more to come), it becomes obvious that the numbers add up rather quickly as time goes by.
What all this means is that we are being forced to do something we are reluctant to do: to swallow our pride and ask for help ourselves. It embarrasses us to do so; yet, truthfully, that doesn't matter in the long run. What really matters is that Nicholas gets whatever he needs.
We love our little man more than we could ever describe. He is so delightful, and makes life a true joy.
Briefly, then: if you can, please do. Anything you contribute will be used solely toward payment for Nicholas' therapy.
If you can't, know that your heartfelt prayers would be appreciated.
And please...spread the word. Thank you...so very much.
(To learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder, go here: www.autismspeaks.org)
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