Our identical twin boys were born a month early two years ago and from the start at 3 months old, I knew something was going to be different with Ryan, our youngest. Both boys however were always extremely far developmentally behind in their milestones, Ryan more so than Josh. As a mother of four, I knew where they should be, and my gut was telling me I needed to have them evaluated around 15 months with the Lucas County Board of DD program Help Me Grow. Everyone told me I was crazy, told me that they are boys and they’re slower to develop and not to compare them to my girls who were speaking full sentences at 11 months old. But I knew in my gut it was more than that- I knew when at 15 and 16 months old they were not saying momma or dadda, or event waving hello or goodbye that if I can give them one gift at this time or help them in any way possible, I needed to start early intervention with them. At 15 months old, they qualified with Help Me Grow and that is when our journey (and the pandemic) started.
Through the pandemic, we struggled to get into therapy but finally got in around August. Our boys were in therapy for 7 months and really excelled, but we knew we still had a long way to go. In November, our pediatrician and both the boys OT and Speech therapists highly suggested we get them evaluated for autism. We started the process in December with Mercy Autism Clinic and got our diagnosis on March 21st.
There were many feelings, as we were told that our 27-month-old child, that we thought was thriving in therapy, was at a communication level as a 4-month-old. But now, we have a diagnosis, and we have a plan to act and get them all the help that they need. Both children are non-verbal however we have been working hard with sign language and one knows two signs and the other child knows about five. Our little Ryan is about 4 months behind of where Josh is.
Ryan is the sweetest, most affectionate little boy but struggles with knowing boundaries because of his sensory processing, his emotions go on overload quite often so, not only working with his autism diagnosis, but all the other things like SPD that comes along with it. Joshua is so smart; we see him excel in receptive communication every day! That is our greatest joy through all the therapy. I should add that until they started speech and OT, they had almost zero receptive communication as well. Until they were about 22 months old, we couldn’t even give them simple directions or tasks to do, they just did not understand what we were saying. I think watching them excel in that area has been the greatest part of early intervention.
Ryan has also had two surgeries since July, so we are still paying off his surgeries that have also put him behind developmentally. My husband took a new job in August and his insurance does not pick up anything until a high deductible is met. It all adds up fast! We will be starting the boys in an autism school as soon as we can get in (waiting list is insane because of covid) and that will also be additional monthly funds. The Avenues for Autism Suzanne Tyner Assistance Fund helped make it possible for our sons to get the interventions and support they needed during a critical stage of their development. Even having full coverage insurance, we still hit our out-of-pocket family max. These grants help eliminate cost barriers for families.
Having two children with autism has impacted our family, it’s also taught us to be kinder, more understanding, and how to be the biggest advocate I can be as a mom. We do everything in our power to provide everything we can around early intervention as I know that will be the key to their success. We just started this journey but, we are thankful for the support we have received in our community and our family.
Story shared by Heidi (the twin’s mom)