#AutismAwareness 🧩

Posted on 17 July 2023

Our personal journey into this ausome world began exactly a year ago.. (April 2022)

As our son was growing up, we noticed something was different about him. As a first-time mom, I wasn't sure how children usually behaved. I kept a diary of all his traits and quirks such as flapping his hands a lot, making repetitive sounds, and not verbalizing anymore. As I started to observe other children, it was clear from looking at other kids his age that Keith was quite different. We honestly didn't understand at the time that our son had sensory difficulties. He is oversensitive to sound, touch, taste, and even too-crowded places. He refused to eat what we usually gave him and preferred crunchy snacks, he preferred playing alone on his own instead of with his cousins and he gets easily scared when the other kids are rowdy or noisy.

The diagnosis

As each day passed, we recognized the more distinct characteristics of autism with repetitive behaviors, speech delays, and more, so we decided to bring him to a Developmental Pediatrician for a checkup. The doctor said that he's on the spectrum and needed Occupational therapy for 6 months, 1 hour per session, twice a week. Then we had to come back for a follow-up checkup to monitor his progress. We were scared and distraught. Yes, I cried a lot. My heart ached for him. As much as we love him and accept him, we felt unprepared and ill-equipped to give him the support he needs.

Making sacrifices

After the shock of diagnosis began to subside, and after we made several research into ASD, we knew it was time to take action to give Keith all the help we could. My husband and I talked about it and made sure our working schedules, in particular his, can accommodate Keith’s therapy sessions.

Because of this setup, my 7-year-old stationery business, KeenaPrints, slowed down immensely when everything started. The monthly product releases and promotions weren't ideal for my schedule anymore so I decided to transition most of my products to digitals instead.

My cousin Siena is helping me out with the production of old designs and shipping out orders but creating new products is quite hard for me now. Since then, I usually work on KeenaPrints when Keith is asleep or when he is at school. With this kind of system, less of my time will be consumed, and the more time I can give to our son.

Challenges and wins

After an extensive search, we found a place which is an hour ride away from home for Keith’s occupational therapy and he started in April 2022. It was far but we were determined to help him as much as we can.

After 6 months, when he was checked again by his developmental pediatrician, she noticed huge progress in the development of his overall skills and recommended enrolling him in Speech Therapy once a week together with occupational therapy for another 6 months.

Finally, on March 13, 2023, a year after he was first seen by the developmental pediatrician, he did really well with the tests and showed continued improvement in his gross motor, fine motor, and social skills. And now, Keith is in a playgroup for socialization in a center 5 minutes from our home as recommended by his doctor. Luckily, this center also offers Occupational Therapy so we transferred him there. This turned out to be such a blessing as I am able to go back home, do some chores, and work on my business while he is at school.

Keith is now 4 years old and goes to school every day for his OT, ST, and Playgroup. We now have a solid daily routine that we follow so Keith won't get overwhelmed with his daily activities.

The support

With the support of my husband, I was able to stay at home and research the knowledge that I needed to help our child. We are so grateful for our parents, cousins, and friends that are always there when we need a helping hand.

In addition, having a physical planner which I bring everywhere helps a lot. It is where I keep track of his daily habits and meltdowns. This is also where I keep a list of food that he eats and needs to try, and a list of activities he might like when he gets bored. I also have a section where I keep track of his developments and goals for the month. Without this, it would be hard for me to remember everything.

I wrote this because I wanted to help parents like us. Hearing the news that your child has autism may be one of the worst things you will ever hear. The loss of control, the unknown, the what-ifs - it is life-changing.

Our ultimate hope is that one day soon, our son will live in a world where he will be accepted and appreciated, despite the differences. As long as we are here, we try to surround him with people who love and accept him. Maybe we could not cure autism but we could sure do as much as possible to give Keith the best possible chance at living a fulfilling and healthy life.

PS: Thank you so much for your continuous support for KeenaPrints. It means a lot to us!

Prayer from PrayerIdeas.

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