Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The "A" word.

Yeah, the title really narrows it down, doesn't it? There are so many "A" words. So what word absolutely terrified me to hear? Autism. Yes, you read that right. Autism. My son Gavin was diagnosed June 24, 2014. I would like to tell you a little about him before I get into his autism diagnosis.

My pregnancy with Gavin was not what I had imagined. Quite frankly, I hated every minute of it. Between the kidney stones, infections, numerous hospital stays, feeling like he was going to fall out at any moment, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia it was a nightmare. Every time I heard someone say, "Oh I miss being pregnant. I just loved it." It took all I had not to waddle my pregnant butt up to them and smack them across the face.

Gavin was taken via c section at, what we thought was 38 weeks. Yeah, no my due date was off by 2 weeks, and he was only 36 weeks. He spent 9 days in the NICU due to breathing issues. Worst 9 days of my life, but once I got him home, he was great. Sure, he got sick occasionally, what kid doesn't. He seemed like a normal newborn. Well, normal in my eyes. He was my first. I was clueless. He met all his milestones right on time. He crawled at 8 months, walked at a year. He did have difficulty learning to sit unassisted, and he never could hold his bottle by himself, but I didn't think anything about it. I still don't even know it that's a big deal. Yeah, as you can tell, I still am pretty clueless when it comes to this parenting thing.

Fast forward to when Gavin was 16 months old. He was saying a few words, could follow directions, and loved getting all the attention. When Gavin was 17 months old I became pregnant with our second child. I started noticing things about Gavin. He stopped saying every word except "momma." He could no longer point to body parts, or follow simple directions. I would have to scream his name MANY times before he would look at me. That is when I first had the dreaded "A" word in my mind. It crossed my mind a lot. I talked to his doctor and he kept saying, "Wait till he's two. My sons didn't say a single word until they turned two." Even though my gut was screaming, "DON'T WAIT, BRIDGETTE!" I listened to the doctor. I spent many night crying. I knew something wasn't right. Everyone else said, "Oh you're just hormonal. He's fine" but they knew, too.

Gavin turned two July 26, 2013. Still no words, except, "momma." I brought it up to his doctor, and this time he was concerned. Early Intervention evaluated him. I'll never forget the results. He was 25 months when he was tested. His speech was that of an 8 month old. He was developmentally delayed in 4/5 areas. My heart sank. I am a teacher. Why can't I teach my son to talk? What is wrong with ME? So I started pushing him. We did flash cards, games, toys, computer, you name it, I tried it. Nothing. Nothing helped. This is when I began to shelter Gavin. If I knew he would have to be around kids his age, I would make excuses. I can't tell you how many excuses I have had as to why we couldn't make it to a birthday party. I was embarrassed. Not of him, myself. I felt like a failure as a mom and a teacher because I didn't know how to teach my son to talk, understand, learn.

I had my second son, Keegan on September 12, 2013. "Oh having a baby brother will make him feel more responsible that will get him talking." Nope. "Try him in daycare. He''ll hear other kids talking, and will want to talk, too." That didn't work either. I am still in denial at this point (out loud). In my head I am screaming at myself, "WAKE UP, BRIDGETTE. YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT IS WRONG!" People would speak to him, "Oh he is a shy child." would be my reply when they asked why he wouldn't talk back. Then I started telling people, "Oh he's just going to be a late talker. He's a boy. Boys mature slower."

Gavin was about 29 months before I finally said the words out loud to someone. "I think he has autism." Early Intervention said I could get him tested any time. They even sent me the form and phone number to call the autism specialist. I threw it away. "Nope. He will be okay. Just give him a few more months." A few more months came and went. No change, nothing, zip, zero. The school system takes over when Gavin turns three. Once again I was asked, "Do you want him tested?" My reply, "No, I'll just tell the teacher to keep an eye on him, and if she notices anything then we can test him." Each time I said no, my internal voice got louder and louder. His first IEP meeting, I was asked again. Without even thinking I blurted out, "Just do it!" That was that. No turning back now. I had run from the "A" word for over a year.

June 24, 2014 at 11:30 am I met with a few of the teachers that tested him. They talked about where he was developmentally, which like I said nothing had changed. Then I turn the page, and it jumps out at me, "Mild to moderate Autism Spectrum Disorder. My heart stopped, I could feel the tears building. I still had a little hope that it wasn't that, but when I looked down and saw the "A" word, all hope was gone. Alan, my husband was by my side, and he comforted me. I have known the teachers for years, and they reassured me that he will be okay, no matter what. He is still the same Gavin.

It's been a rough few weeks. Not for Gavin, but for myself. Yes, he has his moments, but he is two! I feel like I am on a roller coaster. One minute I am up, "Let's do this. Come on, Gavin we are going to learn, learn, learn!" The next minute I am spiraling down.

Is the "A" word as scary as it was before his diagnosis? No. I went home, after the IEP meeting, and Gavin hadn't changed one bit. I have had 3 weeks to think about his diagnosis. Am I still scared? You better believe it! Not of the word though, but the future. Autism is scary because we just don't know the outcome. Every child is different. The not knowing is what makes autism terrifying. All I (we) can do is take one day at a time. Some days I have to take it hour by hour, but somehow I always survive. It will get easier, I have faith. Gavin has taught me so much in his (almost) three years of life. Can you imagine what else he is going to teach me? That is the purpose of this blog. To show the world that the "A" word Autism is a learning process, not only for the child, but for the caregivers. I can't wait to see where this journey takes Gavin, and what Gavin teaches me along the way.


  1. Love!!! Thanks for sharing your story. You have helped me so much already!!!

    1. Courtney, I can say the same for you! You have NO idea how much you have helped me. Thank you!!!

  2. Bridgette, this is the best thing I have read all day. Thank you for sharing.