For one of our employees, these statistics are all too familiar. In 2013, after numerous visits to the doctor, working hand-in-hand with speech therapists, and monitoring her child’s behavior, Jessica’s son, Bryson was diagnosed with autism. Since April is Autism Awareness Month, Jessica offered to share her story and the trials and triumphs that have accompanied her and her family on this journey thus far. Read Jessica’s story below:
“I always had that feeling when Bryson was a baby; the one I guess they call the motherly instinct. Bryson is a twin and as he and his brother (Layton) started to develop, it was almost as if Bryson did not have a personality; especially compared to his brother. He would giggle when you tickled him, but he would not smile when you talked to him. As he continued to grow up, Bryson became extra sensitive to touch and loud noises. His doctor explained that this could be because his language explosion hadn’t hit yet.
What I recognize now that I did not know then was that Bryson exhibited some of the common signs of autism. He would line up his toys as a way of playing with them and he would roll himself back and forth to sleep (which he still does) or rock as he watched TV. I had several meetings with his doctor and he would explain that Bryson may do these things as soothing techniques and that his speech may simply be delayed. But truthfully, I knew something wasn’t right. Over the years, we went through several speech therapists before we found one that encouraged me to push back with Bryson’s doctor.
Finally, after about a year of one-on-one consults with the doctor, Bryson was diagnosed with autism. I, of course, was heartbroken for my little boy. It’s one thing to think that something may be wrong but it’s an entirely different thing to hear that it is true. After the doctor diagnosed Bryson, he explained that he did not want to jump the gun with the diagnosis because once you label a child with “autism” it is not something that can be removed. At each yearly checkup, the doctor tells me that Bryson is doing so well because of parents like me who keep pushing for answers. He said the earlier we know something the sooner we can start on a treatment plan which results in the highest success rate.
After Bryson’s diagnosis, we were referred to many specialists who all wanted to put him on medicine. We tried medication for a short period of time, but I quickly decided against it. Ever since that day, I have done nonstop research of how I could learn more about the world as Bryson sees it, not how to transition him into ours. Over the years he has grown so much! He has less meltdowns and his aggression is very limited. Bryson loves trains and the color red, and anything to do with numbers and learning. We’re very proud of him for making the honor roll at school!
Autism is a part of our everyday lives and thanks to the research and resources that are available for us, we are all able to get through it a little better. Autism Speaks is one of the best sources for research and I highly encourage you to learn more about Autism and what you can do to help at www.autismspeaks.org.”