Last, but certainly not least, meet these two lovely children! Emma and Daniel are 2 year old twins and the big brother and sister to a sweet baby girl.
Just like any other two year olds, they are very active, inquisitive and on the move! I loved my session with them and their family and it was so great to get to know each of these little ones.
When I arrived I first met Daniel. Can you say charmer?! He just popped right over with a big smile and began running around, clearly very proud to be showing me his house. Full of personality and charisma, it was impossible to not be drawn to him.
Emma was a bit more quiet. She is a captivating girl and immediately upon meeting her I could tell how smart she is. It is interesting, how children who are quiet can show you so much with their eyes. She watched me for awhile and then joined us, one she realized I was safe 😉
Their parents were very open with me and since their mother (Katy) is quite a talented writer (she is also a contributor for Madison Moms Blog and writes her own blog which you can visit here) I thought it appropriate you hear from her in her own words:
“Emma and Daniel are our first children, and so we didn’t know parental life without autism. Emma showed signs almost from birth. Very early on we realized she wasn’t making eye contact, and not hitting milestones on time — rolling over and sitting up came late for Emma. We kept waiting for those first words, but at 18 months Daniel only had the word “Choo choo”, and Emma didn’t have any words.
Two weeks after their second birthday, Daniel said “Hi Mama” on Thanksgiving day. From then to now (a little over four months), Daniel has learned the whole alphabet, can count to 30, can make all the common animal sounds, can identify all the planets and several dinosaurs… the list goes on.”
Daniel was diagnosed just after he turned 2, but Emma has a story that started when she was much younger. Her mother shared with me that she was diagnosed at the young age of 13 months. Knowing the importance of early treatment, her parents got her into ABA therapy as soon as possible.
“Emma has been in therapy 5 days a week since she was 15 months old. She has intensive autism therapy, as well as speech therapy. We are trying to add occupational therapy and hippotherapy (horse riding therapy) to the mix… but where can we find these extra hours in the day? It’s a big workload for such a small child. Therapy is both a huge drain, and the most amazing part of our lives. Through Emma’s therapy we have met some of the most caring, sweet people. Emma was so little when she started therapy that she was quite a rarity. Firstly, the vast majority of people with autism are male (almost five times more likely), and secondly, the earliest most children are diagnosed is at two years of age. We have been lucky to have a steady pool of therapists. I can’t thank them enough for loving our girl.”
Because of her young age at diagnosis, her parents had to take up quite the fight with their insurance company to get them to cover the treatment. In Wisconsin it is mandatory that autism treatment is covered by insurance. This mandate is so important and hopefully this will become a nationwide standard, as ABA therapy alone costs private paying families tens of thousands of dollars a year. That does not include the cost of speech, occupational, or other therapies children on the spectrum receive. However, there is a gray area in that usually coverage starts at age 2 (at least that is the age it is mandated). Emma’s parents wouldn’t take no for an answer and ended up appealing a denial and then winning their case. Katy says:
“Every day that we waited for a result was one less day she would be getting therapy, and it broke my heart. When we won our appeal, I published our letter to help others in a similar position get the therapy their child needed. I hope it’s helped even one more family. Actually, I hope no other family will ever need it.”
With a family that fights as hard as they did, it is no wonder Emma is such a fighter herself. Non-verbal until the week before our session, Emma is now rapidly picking up language! She she knows letters, a few nursery rhymes, and some animal noises (which, by now I am sure she knows more! That update is from earlier this month).
“We are no different to any other family. We aren’t special, we weren’t hand picked, we don’t live any differently to anyone else, and yet we know our lives ARE different. We just live, and love.