Right before the twins turned three, I remember driving to the office to meet the psychologist and thinking to myself, how I am going to react if I hear “the next step for your kids with autism is”…. I didn’t even really know what autism was as I had never met anyone who had this disorder my entire life.
Well, that was all about to change. The evaluation didn’t take more then 40 minutes for the Doctor to confirm each had autism. It felt like I just got kicked in the stomach not once but twice. You would think there was more to it then just a 40 minute evaluation, but that’s all it was.
Then he asked me if I had any questions. “How can you tell from such a short evaluation they are autistic”? The answer was short and to the point. Autism has classic signs and the twins displayed all of them, and, he had been doing this longer then I was alive.
I had so many more questions but there was a waiting room of moms and dads waiting to find out the same results I just did. We never looked at that day as a bad day, just another day in the world of raising our children. After all, they were still the same kids, but now they were kids with autism…..
“You know, your boys are not developing like my boy” said our pediatrician at our 18 month check up. He actually had a child the same age as our twins. He told us his boy was gesturing, making eye contact, noticing when people came and left a room, and saying his first words.
He wasn’t saying this to show off, he was trying to tell us there was something wrong with our twins. We shrugged it off, after all our boys had reached all the other key milestones from crawling to walking, they were eating well and seemed to be doing just fine. Yes they hadn’t said a word yet, and they did have some odd ways of playing with their toys.
We had read that twins are slow to develop language and identical twins even slower. They actually had their own “twin talk” which was very interesting to observe, sometimes it was telepathic for instance, sometimes with out a word, they would both just bolt out of the room at the same time.
As far as the gesturing, that was something we didn’t even pay attention to because when you have twins you tend to be one step ahead of them and get them what they need. Two babies crying at the same time can be absolutely overwhelming. “Ok, he said but keep a careful eye on them and if they don’t begin to gesture and give you eye contact then I would like you to get them checked out.
“Checked out for what, I said” “autism,” was his response. Six more months went by, and nothing had changed, no talking, no eye contact, even more weird repetitive playing. It was time for us to no longer attribute this to being a twin.We then made the appointment to get them evaluated. They were initially diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not otherwise Specified (PDDNOS) before seeing the psychologist.
4 Steps We Took First
Besides the obvious of telling your family and friends here are 4 important things we did to begin our journey.
1. We made an appointment with a social worker who was referred by our local Regional Center.
2. We began a busy schedule of therapies.
3. We enrolled them in special-ed preschool
4. We kept a positive mental attitude at ALL times.
Getting Help with Autism
Here are 5 recommendations we’d like to share with you based on my and my wife’s 8-year journey with getting help with autism for our twin boys.
1. Don’t wait to get your child diagnosed; it has been proven that early intervention can make a huge difference.
2. There are so many different types of therapies out there to help children with autism. Due your homework about your options. We got the best results by doing Dir Floortime, DT, ABA, and now cognitive therapy using The Social Express and other best practices. Make sure to contact your insurance company to see if you are covered.
3. Hire an advocate to join your team for IEP meetings. If anything just to help you with difficult decisions
4. Every day give your child a break from therapy and let them be a kid.
5. Apply for respite services. Date night or alone time is very important to recharge your battery.
“Do you have any comments about what to do first when your find out your kids have autism?”