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  • Writer's pictureSharon Starkey

My Journey with Autism: One Mother’s Story

Updated: Jun 20, 2020

How do you respond when your precious child seems to be different than other children?

Being a first-time mom is hard. Everything is new and you don’t know what to expect. You read books and you talk with friends but even that does not prepare you for your journey ahead. Over twenty years ago, my son showed signs of being different. He hardly ever slept and cried a lot at night. He refused to breast feed and would only drink two ounces from a bottle at a time. Despite my concerns, his doctor said this was perfectly normal for some babies and we accepted it.

As he got a little older, he refused all food except blueberry applesauce and cheerios. He would touch things to his tongue and if he did not like the texture or the smell, he would refuse it or spit it out. He was on the bottle until he was three years old despite all our efforts to get him to eat solid foods. He had constant gas. Later, we found out he had gastrointestinal issues and that his intestines had not completely formed.

He always needed to be held and swaddled tightly. I could never put him down without being within an arm's length. If I left the room, he would cry so hard he would either make himself vomit or he would stop breathing. Those were scary times! Again, I brought concerns to the doctor and I was told I was over reacting.

Fast forward a few months, by the time he was 6 months old he was walking proficiently. At nine months, he was talking in complete sentences. He knew the alphabet forward and backward by sight and could even read them upside down by the time he was one. On the flip side, he would not make eye contact, preferred to play with things by putting them in a line and loud sounds really bothered him. All of his senses were heightened and he would easily go into sensory overload. Fine motor and large motor skills were well behind peers. I knew this was not typical development for that age but, yet again, I was dismissed by the doctors.

I had worked with kids with disabilities for years. This looked like autism to me. All the signs were there. Why wouldn’t the doctors listen to me? Every time I would say something, I was told I was over reacting and that boys develop more slowly than girls. It was so frustrating!

So, what did I do? I began researching. I spent time meeting with therapists and asking questions about things I could do at home to help my son. It was obviously up to me to work with him. I talked to parents. I read books. I joined groups. Then I implemented what I had learned. Some things worked and some didn’t. If something didn't work after ample time of trying, I gave it up and looked for another option.

Finally, to make a long story short, we got the autism diagnosis when he was in first grade. It was only because I kept pushing. However, now I had the school backing me up with documentation. Even then, the diagnosis was made through a counselor at Aspen Pointe without any testing being done. His official testing was done when he was seventeen. Surprise, surprise! He was diagnosed with autism.

I say all this to let you know you are your child’s best advocate. Go with your gut instinct. You know your child best. Keep pushing the professionals if you feel something isn’t normal. Seek out groups like Autism Vision for support and resources. You can do this!


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