What Does Autism Look Like?

What Does Autism Look Like?

autism“He is absolutely adorable! He doesn’t look like anything is wrong with him.”

So I ask, what is the look of someone with Autism?

Patrick was born at 41 weeks and developed just as any typical baby by reaching all milestones timely. At 12 months, he began with some words and was walking unassisted at 14 months. Then came 16 months, and our lives forever changed. We experienced behavioral changes including, but not limited to throwing severe tantrums, flailing in the middle of anywhere and everywhere, a loss of words resulting in an extremely abnormal amount of hollering and/or outburst. He ntyld then only communicate with gestures or screaming to get our attention. When Patrick turned 18 months, we had him evaluated by a psychiatrist at Children’s Hospital, who then diagnosed him with “high functioning” Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Diagnosis :: Autism Spectrum Disorder

I’ll never forget the day Early Steps visited our home to do an evaluation for speech and occupational therapy. Upon a brief visit with Patrick, the evaluator immediately looked at me and said “your son is Autistic.” My heart sank to my feet and the tears rolled down my face before a stranger in disbelief. How could she come into our home and tell me our son was Autistic when this was merely an evaluation for speech and occupational therapy? No parent wants to hear that their child has a disability or developmental delay. A million thoughts began racing my head.

Once receiving his diagnosis, Patrick qualified for speech and occupational, both of which took place in our home. Through these services, we began to see much improvement not only with motor skills, but also language. His speech therapist Brittany was amazing, as she would literally pull words out of his mouth along with teaching him basic sign language. His occupational therapist was able to get him a compression vest for use at school and/or places where he felt overwhelmed, like a grocery store or mall. After all, this wasn’t going to be a ride alone in the dark.

Parenting a Child with ASD

IMG_1002FinalPatrick has always had a love for balloons. No matter the occasion, he thinks ALL balloons belong to him. Very seldom can we attend a function without leaving with a handful of balloons and a big grin of satisfaction. Aside from balloons, he loves Disney Cars. I’m quite positive we have more than Target and Wal-Mart combined.

At the age of 3, Patrick has learned how to use a scooter and maneuver a cozy coupe. He also loves to “fly” around the house on two wheels with his sister Frozen push and ride. These are huge strides for him, and he continues to amaze us with new adventures and words/sentences everyday.

Since turning 3, Patrick attends school where he continues to receive services and is blended with a PreK-4 class aside from his time with the special needs teacher. He also attends ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) on his non-school days through SOAR. ABA has helped us out in so many ways, and most importantly, we all work together as a team to keep a consistent lifestyle. We still experience tantrums and bouts of hollering, but we can now sit and enjoy dinner at a restaurant and make public appearances. Patrick enjoys learning, playing with friends and adores each of his therapists and teachers.

Children with Autism are all different and unique in their own way. With a speech and developmental delay, Patrick can recite his ABC’s forwards and backwards, give the sounds of each letter along with a word for such letter, identify his shapes {including pentagon and hexagon} and colors, spell his name and his brother’s name along with several other words (soccer, orange, red, pink), identify animals, count to 50(+), sing songs and nursery rhymes. While technology isn’t ideal for everyone, it has been a lifesaver for us. We use the iPad for learning applications, unexpectedly long wait times and to ease a tantrum.IMG_1044

Aside from our wonderful therapists, we have an unbelievable support system, FAMILY. Patrick is our HERO and the one of a kind puzzle piece to many puzzles associated with Autism. These past 2 years have been a complete eye opener, and we are forever grateful to be Patrick’s parents. He has taught us how to see everyday life in different ways. This little guy is every piece of UNIQUE and we are proud to call him ours. He is so lovable, giggles often, loves to be tickled, snuggles nightly, adores his siblings and is a feisty ball of energy.

Why fit it when you were born to stand out?

With April being Autism Awareness Month, I ask of you this: a child doesn’t have to look a certain way to be deemed a disability. Because a child is throwing a tantrum in the middle of a restaurant over his juice spilling on the table, doesn’t necessarily mean he needs a “good ole spanking.” We have experienced many eye rollings, heads turning and ugly gestures due to tantrums over what appear to be ridiculous to us, but to Patrick are a big ordeal. If you know anyone who feels lost and needs someone to talk with, feel free to use me as a resource. We have been blessed by God with some amazing people who have helped get us along on our way to get Patrick the services he needs, and I would love nothing more than to share this information with others.

About Karen Davis

Karen Davis resides in Ponchatoula and is mother to three beautiful children, ages 3.5, 2 and 8 months. She previously worked as a paralegal for seven years and was given the privilege to become a stay at home mom. In her free time, she likes to sew, is a momtographer, and loves spending time with her family.


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