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"I've got a fever, got a permanent disease..."

Oh, y'all.

Wipe your screen with some antibiotic ointment or Febreze or something, because I'm feeling an onslaught of Emotional Ebola coming on.

We're midway through PJ's last week of Early Intervention. Monday was the end of Occupational Therapy and today was our next-to-last session of Developmental Integration. His last day of speech was today and after that, one last day of DI.

I think of this journey we've been on since last October and I feel so much. I see the progress PJ has made, going from saying a small handful of words to having a huge vocabulary, a bunch of simple sentences, and singing songs ("Rowrowrowrowrow...boat!"). He went from mindlessly lining up cars on our TV stand to being able to play simple board/matching games. He went from being in his own space so much of the time to being able to smile up at his therapist while doing an activity.

Smiling at his speech therapist!
We all sat in our living room, through a full set of seasons and then some, and worked together to help my sweet Boy become all that we know he is. In October, I flew about the apartment like a psycho, cleaning and fixing and straightening as if the look of our living space would make me more competent as a parent and PJ less autistic. But it didn't matter. They knocked on our door early in the morning, when PJ was grumpy, when it was raining and gross and annoying to be out, after surgical procedures and with broken feet and helped our son work on his skills. Eventually, we all became comfortable with each other, and it was okay for them to know how vital my morning coffee is and that I am...ahem...perhaps not the best housekeeper. They sat on my sometimes-unvacuumed carpet and patiently understood that PJ can sometimes be stubborn and difficult and hard-to-handle and that he is autistic. Because otherwise, why were they there?

This was our routine, answering the door to welcome PJ's therapist that day and all of us working together. And they loved my boy, became so much more then just a random face to him. The same boy that wasn't even calling me "Mommy" when we began this journey learned all of them by name. There were hugs and laughs and patience even when he was being impossible. There were so many time when I wished that we didn't have to do this, that there was no need for therapy, that I couldn't just spend our days on the playground or making coffee dates with friends. I could wish all I wanted, but the fact remained, we needed the help of those fabulous women. The need was there for us to make the best out of and, in turn, the best was brought out of PJ.

And now we're here, the last week of Early Intervention. We are moving on to the next stage and it's fucking scary, folks. Pete and I were here, working with PJ's therapists every step of the way, and now we will step back, and let him go on his own into the care of someone else. The little backpack that I ordered for PJ arrived in the mail today, and I had to put it away because I cry every time I look at it. Today we had a meeting with the Child Study Team to put PJ's educational plan into place. He met his new teacher, sat down with his new classmates for a snack, and played on the playground with his new friends while I watched from the sidelines. He's scheduled to start school on Monday. The day he turns three. This is really happening.

I will spend these last days of PJ's Early Intervention therapy thanking these woman for never judging, for always being present, and for being the driving force behind how amazingly far PJ has come. It's Thanksgiving, and my gratitude for all of this is unbridled.


Anonymous said…
The is your next step in your journey, and I know PJ will be successful and continue to kick butt daily! XXX Sara
MarlaJan said…
Sitting on the couch yesterday with my arms wrapped around my Doodle and his arms wrapped around me was one of the BEST feelings EVER. And no, this isn't about me, but that really helped me to see the immense progress he has made in the past 14 months. He's a loving, thriving, silly boy. My Doodle.

No, it's not what you wanted for him. No parents ever wishes their child is less than perfect. But I've seen you and Pete grab The Tis by the balls and do EVERYTHING you can for him. And it shows in everything PJ does. The improvements I see in in each and every time I'm with you guys. Believe me, it shows.

You and Pete are so brave. It couldn't have been easy. Hell, it's not supposed to be easy. But you approached it in the best way possible by realizing what is best for him.

Monday is gonna is. But I have no doubt it WILL get easier every day. And when you see what this new journey is doing for him, it will make it that much more worth it.

I'm here. I love you. Always.

Upside down.

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The month begins on the heels of news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Autism is on the rise. 1 in 68 children in the areas followed by the CDC are identified as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder, up from 1 in 88 just a few years ago. In New Jersey, the numbers are far higher then the national average at 1 in 45. 

You can view a summary of the latest CDC report here, but there are two points of the report that stood out to me:
Less than half (44%) of children identified with ASD were evaluated for developmental concerns by the time they were 3 years old.Most children identified with ASD were not diagnosed until after age 4, even though children can be diagnosed as early as age 2.Content source: National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
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