SantiBellaI started noticing a change within my monkey in between his hospital stays.  It happened to be around the 18 month period.  He stopped talking.  He stopped babbling.  He stopped imitating us.  He stopped looking us in the eyes.  His tantrums increased.  He withdrew.

I remember taking him to his 18 month checkup.  I stated my concerns that he still wasn’t talking.  His pediatrician dismissed my concerns and said not to worry, he’s a boy.  They are late bloomers.

But I knew something was wrong.  I knew there was more to this than ‘he’s just a boy’.  It was that mama’s intuition.  I had to do something.  This wasn’t normal.

So I contacted ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) to schedule an evaluation.  We met these beautiful ladies that have changed our lives forever.

Ms. Emma, Ms. Diane, Ms. Xochilt, and Ms. Rhonda.  These ladies came into our home armed with love.  They introduced us to sign language, to eye contact, and to PECs (Picture Exchange Communication System).  We learned to explore all avenues to get my monkey to start communicating and interacting with us.  They showed us how to help him with his sensory issues. Their patience in teaching us this new world is/was beautiful.

But aside from learning these things, they also thought us to see our monkey in a different way.  They thought us not compare him with other typical kids his age.  We started to celebrate each milestone, even if they were delayed when compared to the norm.  We began to praise him when he started making eye contact, to praise him when he voluntarily wanted to be with us, to praise him when he started giving us kisses.

And when he started using the hand gesture for ‘more’, we were ecstatic!

The thing is that we didn’t choose autism.  Autism chose us.  However, these ladies chose to work with special needs children like my monkey.  This is what they decided to do for a living.  They dedicate their time and their energy to kids like mine.  They chose autism.

I remember those first months after our diagnosis were very difficult.  We had so much pain and fear of the unknown.  I don’t know how we could have gotten past it without these ladies.  They showed us how to see the world in a different way ~ see it with love.

Here’s to all those therapists, special needs advocators, doctors, school administrators, and teachers who work with special needs kids.  I tip my hat to all of you!  We are forever grateful!


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