When Graham was 18 months old, he got an Autism diagnosis. He didn’t really have words. He didn’t understand much at all. He was often frustrated, regularly angry and difficult to calm.
Tessa is now 20 months old and I still haven’t taken her in for an evaluation. She is just now starting to show words. Her receptive understanding is limited. She is sometimes frustrated, usually mellow and has only the occasional meltdown.
I am trying to tell whether taking such different approaches to these two kids is a good idea. Mostly I’m trying to make sure that I’m not letting Tessa’s laid back attitude get in the way of her progress.
Part of me is stunned that I still haven’t taken her for an eval. I’ve had enough evidence to get one for months. I’m a huge believer in early diagnosis and therapy.
The problem is that part of me is watching her make progress on her own and thinking that it’s enough.
Is it, though? She has things Graham didn’t have: a sibling who shows her so much more to model with language, play and behavior; parents who understand developmental delays and know how to interact with a child who has them; a group of peers at daycare where a bunch of the kids are close to her age. It’d be crazy to expect her to show as much of a problem as Graham had when she has so much that he didn’t.
But once Graham was her age he started getting serious intervention. ABA 5 days a week for hours at a time. I just went back and read my post on Graham’s progress once he was getting 25 hours of therapy a week when he was 21 months old. I think of Tessa as being so much more advanced, but I can see that he’s basically caught up to her current state and with therapy he continued to make huge progress. Which means my baby girl, whose progress has been making me feel like she’s okay, will soon be lagging behind her brother. I should’ve known this, I should’ve recognized it.
I don’t necessarily want to push her too hard. I don’t want therapy to take over our lives again. It was one of the reasons I quit my job last time and that’s not something that can happen again.
On the other hand, I’m seeing her make progress on her own and I’m hoping she can keep going. Just this week her language has gone from occasional imitating of words as a game to doing them in conversation. Plus she’s finally starting to use words appropriately (“apple,” “no,” “mommy,” “daddy”).
I don’t want to hold her back from her potential just because she’s so mellow that she doesn’t show her problems as easily. But I don’t want to step in and take over her life with therapy when she’s doing well on her own.
I basically don’t know what to think. Or rather, I’m thinking an awful lot of things and I don’t know what to do.
She’s always been a tiny and adorable mystery. And I still haven’t figured her out.