Our journey

Article By: Annie Cerpa
Article Date: 08/29/2010

On February, 10, 1999, our second baby boy was born. It was a very uneventful pregnancy, and a smooth scheduled c-section delivery. Through the first 12 months, our son progressed typically, with no red flags, but soon after 12 months is when I started to have concerns. I knew little about Autism back then, but I knew enough to know he may have some of the characteristics.

As we went to his 18 month check-up, I was terrified, knowing something was not right, but I sat back and wanted to see what our then Pediatrician noticed. He did the exam and walked to the door saying, “See you in 6 months”. How could this be? NOTHING? How could a Pediatrician not see the very visibly signs of concern? My son had NO, language, extremely poor eye contact, did not point to get his needs met and could not perform the most basic skills, such as responding to, “Where is your nose”? As the Dr. walked out the door I said, “I have some concerns about his development”. He stopped and came back in.

I explained what they were and how I had researched the web about Autism. What he told me next stopped me in my tracks. I was told to STOP going on the web and reading about these things. I was horrified. Why would I not want to educate myself and learn anything I could, to be prepared, should this be what my child may have? I had already called Early Intervention to have an evaluation done. After the preliminary evaluations, intense therapy started immediately.

Over the next 3 years, little progress was made. I still had a child with no language, many behaviors, non-stop crying episodes, sensory overload and an Autism diagnosis. Then one day, those noises turned into approximations, then single words, then putting two words together and finally fragmented sentences. The first time he said “Mommy” I cried so hard, over 4 1/2 years in the making. There were many obstacles we faced along this journey. I prayed I could dig deep inside to find the strength, for my child and myself. Amazingly I did and so did he. Dillon has worked harder than anyone I know to accomplish what he has.

Today Dillon is in 5th grade and mainstreamed. He has friends, strong math skills, a charming personality and a great sense of humor that captures everyone. There are still hurdles along our path, but I am confident we will leap over them, and if we knock one down, we will pick ourselves up and try again, until we succeed. This journey has taught me never give up, fight hard and revel in the most simple victories.

I would advise parents, go with your gut. If you have a concern, don’t dismiss it. Don’t let someone convince you that there’s nothing to be concerned about. Early Intervention is key. Dillon has taught me “When nothing is sure, everything is possible”.

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