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Evie’s Story: Navigating through Autism

 

We know that receiving a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for your child can be overwhelming for families, particularly in the days and weeks immediately following the diagnosis. While all families are different, there are a few areas of information and support that families often find useful during the time leading up to and following diagnosis. Wonderland’s Autism Navigation program helps connect families with someone to talk to, including professionals or other family members, who have experience and knowledge with autism, individualized information about autism based on their child’s individual strengths and challenges, different therapy and educational services available, information about local resources, including parent support, financial support, and respite services.

Read below to learn more about one family’s experience from diagnosis to completion of the program:

I began suspecting something was different about our daughter when she was 15 months old. She was deeply interested in toys but didn’t look at us to see what we did with them. She loved sitting and spinning in circles. She wasn’t walking yet. She wasn’t babbling and was having trouble picking up sign language. But she was happy and laughing, loved being outside, pointing to everything and making eye contact. It was difficult to know whether or not to be worried.

I contacted Wonderland for an evaluation and explained my fears about autism. We started Wonderland services for special education at 18 months and got on the waitlist for an autism evaluation at the University of Washington. Soon after our daughter turned two, we received her autism diagnosis. My first instinct was to cry, however, we were getting the diagnosis early enough to do everything right and get all the therapy and improve all her outcomes.

It was incredibly helpful to already have the in-home, weekly support of our Wonderland special educator. She helped us navigate the beginning of our journey, embrace our daughter’s strengths, and learn to follow our daughter’s lead to develop more back-and-forth play. I also continued reading things by autistic authors and advocates and tried to work on my own fears through mediation and therapy.

We continue to learn and grow every day, and the Autism Navigation program through Wonderland is making us better, more involved, and more easy-going parents. We are embracing our daughter’s autistic identity and have a mantra that we say to her in the mornings and before bed: “I am strong, I am brave, I am beautiful, I am kind, I am autistic, I am fantastic!” and we tell her every day that we love her for exactly who she is.

She is currently a thriving three-year-old doing great in her developmental preschool program. She is non-speaking and is using an AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) to communicate with her teachers and us. She loves learning about animals, vegetables, and fruit and loves reading books. We are so proud of her!

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