Happy 6th Birthday Chloe!
When she was diagnosed in 2012, I knew it was coming. She shared a lot of the same behaviors Daniel exhibited at that age, so I wasn't surprised at all.
For Chloe, I was more in the know of how to parent a child on the spectrum since I was already an autism parent to Daniel. And although the diagnosis was not a surprise, it still saddened me to be raising another child with a disability. It pretty much sucked.
What I want for them is that idyllic life where they can work for their opportunities and actually have a shot at a fruitful life. Go to college, get married, travel. A someday that my son will say to me, "Hey mom," or, "I love you mom." A day when someone will stop claiming to know all about autism because..., "I've seen a show," or "What's Daniel's specialty?" "He still can't talk?" "Can he sign at least? You should try that," or "You know, I know someone with a kid that can..." "Chloe's nothing like Daniel. You should be happy, right?"
But instead they will be seen as different and maybe even pitted against each other because of their own differences within the spectrum.
I want a day where we can actually go places and not have people in their faces because, "Oh look, that kid/those kids are throwing a tantrum." Let's all look at those horrible parents. "If I was them..." Well, you're not, so...
Adriana gets so upset when this happens with a combination of hurt and anger. But at least, it's never directed towards Daniel and Chloe.
Yes, thank you people that know absolutely nothing about autism or have even spent an iota of time with Daniel and Chloe. Thank you for your unsolicited advice.
And by the way, it's called a meltdown.
Okay, sorry. Moving on.
Chloe had the usual team of early interventions therapists treat her at our home; ABA Therapist, Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, plus center based services. Poor thing, so much work for a then 2 year old. They pushed her everyday to get her interested in play, in people, and feel connected to this world.
Remember when she was nonverbal?
Video credit: Early Intervention Speech Therapist
Her center teacher was concerned with her progress and never gave Chloe a good report. The teacher was concerned about how delayed Chloe was and how Chloe was never motivated to do the work. But she didn't display that specific behavior at home. She was more comfortable and willing to work in her own space on her own terms in her own home.
Those comments seemed like a lifetime ago. I really never believed that she would be where she is now; reading, writing, and attempting to speak in clear, complete sentences. Since I would describe myself as a realist or maybe even a pessimist, autism had dragged me into its bottomless hole of despair and heartache and it clouded my judgement to which I never saw possibilities. It still does. Oh, my Daniel.
While I'd like to take credit for her continued accomplishments, it was she, Chloe, that worked the hardest. I could almost see those gears turning in her head when she finally began focusing on a task in her therapies. She wanted to be in touch so badly and would often have meltdowns because of it. She became so intent on doing tasks independently and she didn't like it when you tried to help her.
But then came anxiety. I'm sure it was always present, but I didn't notice it until she turned 3 and she had to attend school all day. Not too much is spoken about autism coupled with anxiety but it is real. I see it with Chloe on a day to day basis. During her time of figuring herself out, she was being overloaded with her surroundings and began lashing out. She was fearful of going outside and even watching me select clothes for her day would put her in such a state of despair.
Communication and her anxiety continues to be an obstacle for her, and I imagine it always will. My biggest pet peeve is when someone meets her and says, "She doesn't look autistic. She's normal." And looking normal is?
My mind begins racing with thoughts of Daniel. "Then Daniel, to you, is not normal?" While I celebrate Chloe's accomplishments, Daniel is still seen as someone that is less than when it comes to being in this space we call a world. But this is about Chloe, so I won't continue to rant. (Not yet).
So let us raise our pink cupcakes today to my 6 year girl that has grown and learned so much since her diagnosis and continues to be the hardest working kid I know.
Happy Birthday my little Coco Delicious.
Chloe from birth to 5 years old