My name is Savannah and I am a young, single mother. I found out that I was pregnant when I was 17 years old and 3 months shy of graduating high school. I had, for years, felt overwhelmed by my passions in life and didn’t know what to do after graduation. I had probably 15 different career paths that I wanted to take, but little did I know that the most important career path I could have fall in my lap was my destined journey.
I gave birth to my beautiful little Oliver right on his due date and was fortunate enough to spend my labor and delivery in a birth center along side my mother, my doula, and midwife. I abstained from all interventions (IV fluids/medications, Pitocin, Epidural, etc.); just me and nature taking it’s course over my body. He came into this world in perfect health and brought astronomical amounts of joy into my life.
Throughout my pregnancy I had used my scholarships that I was awarded upon graduating high school at the nearest community college and when Oliver was 3 months old I started school back up in a full time distance learning Associates of Arts and Sciences program through the community college. I kept plugging away and was awarded my first degree this past August. I plan to continue on with my education in the near future and go on to get my Bachelors and Masters degrees.
Oliver had been late on most all of his major developmental milestones and that was what sparked my first hint of worry. He didn’t roll over until 7 months, he didn’t sit unassisted until 9 months, he didn’t crawl until 10 months, and he didn’t walk until 15 months. I told myself that all babies develop on their own schedule and to set my worries aside. I started noticing that he was a little different than other babies his age, as they didn’t cry when people looked at/spoke to them and they were interested in other babies/toddlers/children. Oliver had never and still hasn’t shown any interest in other children. When he was 15 months old he was saying about 10 words and then slowly stopped saying one or two of his previously learned words every few days. At 15 months he danced every time he heard music, played patty cake, and waved/said “bye bye” to people. He suddenly, what felt to be overnight, dropped all of these adorable social behaviors and became very serious and rigid. It was around that time that he got more and more antisocial, couldn’t handle change or transitions, and stopped responding to his name. He developed eczema, multiple food allergies, and his bowel movements constantly went back and forth between diarrhea and constipation. He began flapping his hands, toe walking, spinning in circles, crossing/uncrossing his fingers, lining up his toys, and staring at the spinning washing machine. As time went on, it became impossible to take him to grocery stores, restaurants, or community events and, as I write this, I can say that I haven’t eaten in a restaurant in over a year and a half. I was beginning a Developmental Psychology class right when all of this started happening and finished it right before Oliver’s 18 month Well-Child Checkup. In that class I learned about early signs of autism, particularly in 0-3 year olds and was convinced that I needed to bring this up to his pediatrician. I typed up a 9 page list of my concerns (attached at the bottom for reference) and presented it to Oliver’s pediatrician. She asked me questions from the M-CHAT (https://www.m-chat.org/mchat.php) and she shared my concerns. I, then, struggled to find an early intervention center that would serve us because we live so far away from anything resembling an early intervention center. After calling and being denied by roughly 35 centers I got in touch with the person in charge of all early intervention centers in my county and she made sure that someone would amend the rules of their service area. I scheduled an evaluation with the center of my choice and he did, in fact, qualify for a diagnosis of a developmental delay and we started services with a Special Educator weekly. The team that evaluated him referred us to an Autism center where a clinical psychologist could perform a diagnostic evaluation.
I scheduled the required series of 4 appointments with said center and attended an intake interview, two evaluations, and a feedback appointment. Oliver’s feedback appointment took place a few days before he was 21 months and resulted in a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (Moderate to Severe).
This summary of events is a brief version of what can be further read about in my past blog posts. Attached is the 9 page list of my concerns that I presented to Oliver’s pediatrician: 18 month check up