Thursday, July 25, 2013

Autism and Research

Over the last few years we've spent many, many hours at our favorite Autism medical center. We've had evaluations, therapy sessions, meetings with licensed clinical social workers and physicians of all sorts.  In the last year we began to participate in a study for siblings of ASD kids.  Baby Girl has been evaluated twice now for her development.

The first study she was ahead on some things (motor skills) and a bit behind in communication skills.  The most recent study she was ahead on motor skills again, but she is even further behind in regards to communications.  It's hard to say why she is behind.  Is there a true problem?  Does she not flex her communication skills beyond vocalization because there are so many people attending to her?  Am I too good at reading her body signals and anticipating her needs because she is my sixth child?  Is it that I am splitting attention between her and her other siblings so I just don't practice skills and sounds as much?  

I don't know the answers now, and I'm not sure when or if they will become apparent. I've been so focused on her lack of weight gain and getting her to clap and wave that I admit I've neglected verbally "labeling" items and trying to get Baby Girl to duplicate sounds.  

She also has more sensory issues with sound than I realized.  Up until now I thought she just hated her bath.  All you had to do was shut the bathroom door while the bath water was running and she would start crying.  Once in the tub she would cry and cry and try to stand up all the time.  She screamed when we had to wash her hair and rinse it with water.  One of the researchers suggested perhaps it was the sound of the water running that was scaring her.  

As an experiment for her last bath, I ran the water before I brought her into the bathroom, and gave her some new bath toys.  No tears were shed.  A breakthrough to be sure.  I'm not sure if it was the new toys or the already run bath, but we'll find out when I give her next bath with the water already run.  (I'll keep the new toys out of sight for a minute).  

Part of our struggle with Baby Girl's weight is she seems to have texture issues with some of the foods I offer her.  Toddler foods often have milk in them, so I have to work to find safe alternatives she can have.  Quite a few times I've given her a allergy safe "toddler" food and she just spits it out.  The most common denominator for why she spits the food out is texture.  I'll keep trying, because I know it is important to expose her to new things, but it worries me nonetheless.  

So is my baby heading towards being high functioning on the autism spectrum like her brothers?  I don't know.  We'll keep working with her and watching her.  I am grateful we are a part of this study so  professionals can keep a fairly close eye on her.  At our next visit we should have a better idea of how she is doing.  

In the mean time I'm going to ramp up my efforts to increase her communication skills.  If I recruit her older siblings perhaps it will benefit the whole family.  

Wish us luck.

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