Life as a Special Needs Parent
By Alexis Wood | Published on November 2, 2020 | 6 Minute Read
The winter of 2017 was around the time when we first noticed that Milan, who is our daughter, was different from other kids her age. Milan of course was and is very smart in her own and unique way. She is very in tune with her surroundings, knows what she wants and can be very particular about how things must be in her daily routine. When we first got feedback from Milan’s daycare at the time, we were a bit worried and were unsure of what to do next. The daycare had let us know that Milan was not playing with toys, engaging in activities or back and forth play that would have been age appropriate at the time. The director had also noticed that Milan would twirl in circles, not show much interest in other kids and wouldn’t respond to her name as she should.
As her parents we also noticed many of those things at home, including her not having any verbal communication or eye contact. This was a concern of ours since Milan was 12 months old. Being parents, we wanted to stay optimistic and prayed that Milan would develop on her own time. We did occasionally mention these concerns to her Primary Care Doctor but there was not much that they could do until Milan was 2 years of age. Milan was referred to a Developmental Pediatrician at the age of 2 and was officially diagnosed with Autism 3 days after her 2nd birthday. That was one of the most emotional days of my life. Milan’s dad and I both were incredibly sad, we cried and thought of all of the things that would be and could be hindered in her future. Those were just our initial reactions and feelings. As a parent of a special needs child, at times I have felt overwhelmed, anxious, and alone.
"Milan being placed into our lives has been one of the biggest joys we could have ever wished for"
One day I reached out to other women and men within the Autism parent community and then I began to realize that I was not alone and that we as ASD parents, are the chosen ones. We are the parents that God put his trust in, to uphold additional duties. Being an autism parent can be scary at times, but the reward is by far greater than any of your fears. Milan being placed into our lives has been one of the biggest joys we could have ever wished for. Of course there are days, when she is having meltdowns, feeling overstimulated, will cry all night due to being overwhelmed, but we have learned to embrace the good and the bad over the past 2.5 years since her diagnosis.
Today Milan is thriving and now knows how to say many words. She still hasn’t learned to engage in a back and forth conversation, but she enjoys singing songs and repeating sounds and words that others make. Milan currently receives Therapy services through the DCIU and Behavior Services through SMJ behavioral health Services. Speech therapy has been working out well for Milan and has taught her how to verbally say words like “help” “I want’ and “thank you”. Occasionally we will hear Milan repeat these words after we say them. Potty training has been an ongoing learning experience for Milan as well as for us as parents. When we first introduced potty training, Milan hated it and would cry the entire time. We would have to give her a phone or snacks to keep her on the potty.
Milan now does not seem too bothered by it. She has learned to stay on the potty at least 3-4 mins, without getting off and she also enjoys washing her hands and repeating the phrase “Wash your hands, wash your hands''. As a parent of a child on the spectrum, my greatest advice that I can give to another parent with a child on the spectrum or one that is in the process of being diagnosed, is stay consistent, stay positive and stay on top of your child’s services. Getting Early Intervention services for Milan, when she was 2 and first diagnosed with ASD, was the best decision I could have ever made for her. Early intervention has helped her tremendously and has given her a foundation to learn and grow on. I would not change being Milan’s mom for the world. She is my pride and joy and keeps us on our toes.
-Alexis M. Wood, M.S
Autism Mom/ Advocate
Owner/CEO of Autism Brushes
About the Author
Alexis Wood is an Autism Mom and Advocate. She is the owner and Founder Of Autsome Brushes.
Autsome: To have the ability to over achieve your goals while living with Autism Spectrum Disorder🧩