Noah was our first child. High hopes and extravagant dreams were in our hearts for our pride and joy. But he barely met his milestones in the first 7 months. Then he was walking at 10 months, saying words, and playing games with us and extremely hyper. Around 14 months he had about 8 words. Noah stopped talking shortly after that. With other delays, medical problems, and behavior problems I brought my concerns to his doctor.
We had many doctors’ appointments and several evaluations done by different specialist. We knew by January 2011 that Noah would be diagnosed with autism with the official diagnosis one month later.
For the first month I watched my son have tantrums and I cried. Being his mother felt foreign to me. That somehow he wasn't the same anymore. I thought I caused this and that guilt is a heavy burden. With help from my husband, I was able to see Noah again, not autism. Soon we were in meetings and on board with anything and everything that would benefit Noah.
We started intensive in-home therapy and he was receiving 15 hours per week. Two weeks into therapy Noah said his first word (bubbles) in almost a year aside from the "it’s stuck" phrase he used for everything. At 3 he started a new center based program at an amazing school, Applied Behavior Consultants, for children with autism. Receiving one on one intensive therapy 40 hours per week. Since then he has thrived. All of those hours it was Noah working through his challenges with his tutors. He is a determined, strong boy who will continue to conquer his challenges one day at a time.
He is now on his way from preschool to mainstream kindergarten with an aide. Talking, running and arts and crafts are Noah's favorite things to do. His sister Tessa is 2 and they are the best of friends.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I say one "I love you mom" is worth a thousand bad days. When you see your child's accomplishments, it’s inspiring. Proof that the hard work we do as parents and early intervention can make a difference. The most important thing I've learned in the last 2 years is that THERE IS HOPE. It's not easy to discuss but I'm hoping to give another family faith that things will get better.
Ashley Hassler, Noah's Mom