Meet CafeMom's Featured Mom: Kittie26
CafeMom is excited to announce a way we're featuring many of our terrific moms. Selected moms will respond to our "Mom of the Day" interview questions, and their interviews will then be posted in the group that they spend the most time in.
1. How did you first find out your child was on the autism spectrum?
My daughter, Aly, was almost 2 and had not started talking. In the months leading up to her second birthday, I decided to contact my state's early intervention program to have her evaluated for a speech delay. Given that her only word at that point - just a week before her second birthday - was "Na!", she easily qualified. I was also told she was more than 25% delayed in cognition, social/emotional, and adaptive skills. As a result, Aly not only qualified for speech therapy, but also for special education instruction. Both services were to be in my home.
After just one session each with the speech therapist and the special education instructor, I was advised to have Aly evaluated for autism because they saw some red flags. I was told that it could *just* be that she's very strong willed and independent, or it could be that she's on the spectrum. Since she's just like me, I was sure it was only that she's strong willed and independent (which, whew!, she certainly is!), but I went forward with the evaluation.
Almost two months after her second birthday, the autism diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (or PDD-NOS) was delivered.
I grieved - as most parents do - but very briefly. We ramped up services immediately and haven't looked back. She's doing amazingly well and I'm constantly surprised by how far she has come in such a short period of time. Not a day goes by that I regret having her evaluated.
2. What has been the most challenging part of the journey? And the most rewarding?
The most challenging parts for me tend to be the evaluating, the waiting, and the decision making. I am 100% committed to doing all I can to give Aly the best life possible. When my efforts are slowed down by evaluations and waiting for results, I get very antsy. I never stop working with my daughter and am constantly doing the best I can for her, but that waiting can be so taxing and stressful.
Here's an example: As Aly's third birthday approaches, we are going through exit testing from the early intervention program. So far, Aly's testing higher than the requirements for special ed pre-k - which should be a proud mommie moment!, but I am worried because she really needs continued services. Just because she is smart and is talking doesn't mean we don't still face behavioral problems that will need to be addressed before she old enough for kindergarten. I am still waiting for the last parts of the evaluation to be completed, plus waiting for the transitional meeting to be set up with the schools, and in the meantime am feeling helpless and like I have no idea what we will be doing after Aly turns 3. It'd be nice to have answers sooner than later so I can make an alternate plan if necessary.
The most rewarding part of this journey... well, there isn't any one thing. There are so many little things. Every new success, no matter how large or small, makes my heart soar. It's not every mother who is jumping up and down because her 2-year-old just pretended to talk on the phone. Children on the spectrum have a hard time with pretend play, so the day she started putting her toys to sleep, I was elated. There are so many situations like that in everyday life that many parents overlook because they simply don't realize how special they are. Being on this journey has opened my eyes to the absolute wonder of childhood in a way I couldn't appreciate prior to receiving Aly's diagnosis.
3. What group do you most frequently hang out in on CafeMom?
Autism: Support Across the Spectrum. I joined the group when I first decided to have Aly evaluated, and it's become my go-to source of information and friendship with moms just like me. When no one else seems to understand what I'm going through, the ladies in that group do, and they care and have wonderful advice. I don't know what I'd do without them or the group.
4. What do you like most about CafeMom?
It's been a staple of my motherhood years. I joined as soon as I learned I was pregnant in the fall of 2008 and have come back almost daily ever since. I've yet to find another place on the internet that has so many wonderful moms who can relate to exactly what I'm going through at any given time - no matter what the topic. I have to admit, though, I'm not *looking* for other places out there because I am so happy here!
5. A mom's spare time is precious (if it exists at all!). How do you spend yours? (Aside from on CafeMom, of course.)
I spend a lot of it here, of course, and playing Facebook games (though I really need to quit). Other than that, I spend it with loved ones or in solitude. Oh, yes, I sooo need my solitude, particularly after a "bad" day full of meltdowns when my very last shred of patience is about to jump off a cliff. Then you can find me in a long, hot bath with a glass of wine and a good book immediately following Aly's bedtime!
6. What are your favorites:
Book: The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
Movie: 50 First Dates
Song: Someone Like You by Adele
Food: Cheese fries!
Place to travel to: Ocean City, MD. My mom and I have made it a tradition to go there for my birthday in November each year, ever since Aly was born.
7. Which celebrity mom would you most like to hang out with, and why?
Jennifer Garner, because she's always seemed like such a down-to-earth person and I'd just like to meet her.
8. If you could give a mom whose child is facing a possible autism diagnosis one bit of advice, what would it be?
Stay positive! Receiving a diagnosis is not the end of the world. It is actually a step toward providing a better life for your child and obtaining a better understanding of why your child is the way he or she is. It can be a rocky road, but as long as you always do the best you can for your child and keep a positive attitude, you will both have so many happy times ahead.
9. If you had to choose, what single word best sums you up?
10. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? And if you work, what's your job?
I always just wanted to be a mom when I grew up... a stay at home mom, like mine was. After Aly was born and gave me a very exhausting first few months, I was *thrilled* to leave home and go back to work. Mama needed a break! lol
Oh, and I'm an editor.
11. If you could trade places with any one person for a day, who would it be?
Anyone who is off on some fabulous vacation right this second and loving every minute of it. I want to walk in their shoes!
Now answer her question for YOU:
How do you work more "me" time into your busy life? I need ideas, because my life is pretty packed and sometimes the stress gets to be too much.