“Caitlyn has autism.” Those three little words didn’t come as a surprise, but they still hit me like a punch to the gut.
Our three-year-old daughter Caitlyn was diagnosed with autism and SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) last year. I knew from the time she was born that something wasn’t quite right, but no one seemed to believe me until Caitie started missing all her developmental milestones. I was a nursery and preschool teacher for many years (and had experience working with children on the autism spectrum) and as painful as it was to admit, I knew what we were dealing with long before the diagnosis.
From birth, Caitie didn’t want to bond with me unless it was to eat. I fed her all the time, just to feel close to her! She hated being held, rocked, sung to, or read to, and cried all the time. She slept horribly, and had no interest in toys (except to line them up or examine them), made little eye contact, and rarely smiled. All the things parents experience with their babies (and I’d taken for granted with my firstborn daughter) I didn’t get to experience with Caitie — and I was heartbroken. But I was determined to find answers and get my baby the help she needed.
At 15 months, her pediatrician referred us to early intervention. What a godsend! Caitlyn receives speech therapy, OT, and PT, and has made wonderful progress. She started walking, talking, and playing with other kids at school — and is learning pretend play! She’s come so far it’s amazing! So far, in fact, that most people wouldn’t know she’s autistic.
We experience struggles and challenges every single day, but autism has made our family stronger in so many ways. And seeing Caitie’s smile is the best feeling in the world!!
Coos Bay, OR