I had no idea this term existed until today. For the past year we have been working with Taj on his speech and after seeing very minimal results, decided to have him further evaluated for other causes behind his speech delay. After several evaluations from different occupational therapists, it was determined that Taj also has a sensory disorder. Sensory disorders vary widely and a person may only have one type or a person may have several types of sensory disorders.
Every kid has their quirks, especially two year old kids, so instead of feeling anxiety over Taj's peculiarities, we felt relieved to finally know a reason why he does the things he does. For instance why just getting him to eat is a daily battle, why he completely overreacts to having his hair, fingernails, and toenails cut, why the blankets, pillows, stuffed animals have to be a certain way and texture in order for him to go to sleep, why he can't wear shirts with hoods or socks with large seams, etc. Since being evaluated by the occupational therapist we have been doing therapy with him on our own at home with things like brushing, joint compression, swinging, rough housing, and several other activities to help Taj's nerves get the stimulation they need. If we are religious about it, Taj's eating habits do seem to improve, which is great! I can't tell you how stressful it is to have a child that a lot of the time refuses to eat anything all day long, especially a skinny child. He does get about four large sippy cups of whole milk with a supplement in it, so at least he is still getting some calories every day. I'm hoping his eating improves as he gets older and as he learns to deal with different textures.
Because Taj will be turning three soon, he was evaluated by the Davis County School District to see if he qualifies for early intervention in the district. Several questionnaires, observations, and appointments with speech therapists, occupational therapists, and a child psychologist later, it was determined that Taj is on the Autism spectrum. He is on the Autism spectrum because of his speech delay, sensory issues, and a slight cognitive delay. He does not however have Autism or Aspergers (sorry if spelling is wrong). Taj has PDD-NOS, which stands for: Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Basically, Taj has enough characteristics of Autism and equally enough high functioning strengths that he can't be fully classified as one way or the other. The psychologist told me it was a "catch all" phrase for children like Taj who are on the Autism spectrum but who don't actually have Autism. The best course of intervention for this is early intervention. Taj has an IEP meeting next week where it will be determined which preschool he qualifies for. I was told that he will most likely be put in a Functional Skills class where he will learn self help skills first and then as he progresses, move on to other things. I am excited about this because there will be more teachers than students in the classroom, which means Taj should get a lot of one on one help and direction. Because we are getting Taj the help he needs early on, he will most likely be able to carry on a normal, high functioning life. We of course are going to do everything on our end to help Taj get to where he needs to be cognitively and with his speech. I am very excited for him to start preschool and I'm sure that we are going to see some great results.
As a parent, sometimes there are a lot of open-ended questions when it comes to your child's well-being. As a mother, something just didn't feel quite right about Taj's speech and behavior and I'm glad that I took the initiative to look into it because the earlier Taj starts treatment, the better. Waiting even a year or two may have delayed him even further. We love Taj more than life itself, quirks and all, and are committed to giving him the best start possible! I'm grateful school districts offer the help they do for families like ours.