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At 15 months, Justin began attending daycare. When I would pick him up, I could distinctly hear him down the hallway making his “ahhhh” singing sound while playing. He often seemed to be playing by himself while the other kids were gathered in a circle intently listening to a story.

On the playground, he would happily carry around a string from a pompon while other children would be engaged in more traditional activities. In the back of my mind, I wondered if he had some type of delay, but I wasn’t overly concerned. He was my first child and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

When Justin was two years old, his younger brother was born. We were so excited to have the family we had always dreamed of and pictured the boys playing together in our big yard. We envisioned them being the best of friends while engaging in fun family activities.

"Although he had a large vocabulary and spoke clearly, he was repeating words and phrases that he had heard previously, and would randomly insert them into a sentence that didn’t make sense."

About six months later, my concerns about Justin were confirmed. My sister, who was Justin’s childcare provider at the time, expressed concern about Justin’s communication. Although he had a large vocabulary and spoke clearly, he was repeating words and phrases that he had heard previously, and would randomly insert them into a sentence that didn’t make sense. I did some internet research on speech delay and came across an article on Autism. It seemed to describe Justin’s behavior exactly! I was pretty sure that was his diagnosis, but we had to wait for a professional opinion. After expressing my concerns about Justin’s communication to his pediatrician, he suspected that Justin had Aspergers and referred us to Early On as well as a psychologist for further evaluation.

"Every morning was extremely frustrating and felt like torture for us both, yet Justin was unable to express why he was so frustrated."

justin

Justin was officially diagnosed with Autism and began attending Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) in the morning and daycare in the afternoon. It was a tremendous struggle every day to get him dressed and on the school bus. Every morning was extremely frustrating and felt like torture for us both, yet Justin was unable to express why he was so frustrated. I knew there was something more we needed to do to help the situation, but I wasn’t sure where to turn. Justin’s psychologist had mentioned The Center for Childhood Development so we decided to check it out. At age 4, Justin began attending speech therapy sessions with Laura Allison at The Center and he truly enjoyed it! He happily carried around a picture of him and Laura together almost everywhere he went.

That summer, Justin began attending Occupational Therapy (OT) sessions at The Center where he practiced independence with his socks and shoes and even learned to ride a bike with training wheels! Since starting school full-time and continuing his weekly therapy sessions, Justin has made tremendous progress both personally and academically. He often talks about going to college to further explore his interest in “fixing lights”.

We don’t know what challenges we will experience in the future, however, we have learned to slow down and take everything one day at a time. Justin has been such an inspiration to our family and has taught us to take note of the minute details regarding sights and sounds around us that we would ordinarily have missed. We have learned to increase our patience and acceptance of others and realize that everyone tries their best in order to make their own unique situation work for them.

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