Our Emmy Girl

10560980_542271395902305_125246605_nAround Emmy’s first birthday we started noticing some behaviors that concerned us. She always seemed to be in her own world, choosing to go off on her own instead of initiating play with us. She was starting to say some words, and we were watching her very closely. We talked with our pediatrician about it, but based on her development at the time, he was not concerned.

By the time Emmy turned two she was almost completely non-verbal. She would make some sounds and knew a few signs, but beyond that she did not say anything. She still preferred to go off on her own, played with toys in a peculiar way, and would not normally respond to her name. As Andrew and I talked about it, we thought she just enjoyed being alone or needed time away from all the noise her brother and sister produced. Or perhaps she didn’t hear us call her name because she was too involved in what she was doing.

Over the next couple of months Emmy was evaluated at speech therapy and then occupational therapy as well. The therapists that worked with her gently talked with us about some concerns that they saw in Emmy’s behavior. These concerns were not new to us but still very hard to hear about our child.

This led us to have a conversation with our pediatrician, which in turn, led us to set up an appointment with a developmental pediatrician. We knew that Emmy was struggling, and we wanted to do everything we could for her.

We waited nearly a year to see the developmental pediatrician. At that appointment in September 2014, Emmy was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Even now as I write this, I struggle to fight back tears. We knew that this diagnosis was a possibility, but nothing can prepare you to hear those words.

Since then, Emmy started ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) in addition to speech and occupational therapies. We have seen Emmy grow in leaps and bounds. When she was initially evaluated by her BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) for ABA she asked me if Emmy was completely nonverbal. Now Emmy is finding her voice and learning that she can ask for things and get them!

Although this diagnosis has changed our lives, Andrew and I know that Emmy is much more than her diagnosis. She is funny, silly, determined, sweet and loving. She gives the best hugs and wet kisses. She loves Abby. She loves to sing, play outside, collect rocks, swing and play in the water.

We have a long road ahead of us, but Andrew and I have all the hope in the world that our girl is going to be ok.

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2 Responses to “Our Emmy Girl”

  1. Brittney Chappell

    Kari, I know this is hard, but I also know you are a great mother and God gave you Emmy because he knows you can wear many hats for her (mother, therapist , advocate). If you ever have any questions please feel free to ask me. I’m a pediatric occupational therapist and work with children who have SPD and ASD.

  2. kari

    Thank you so much Brittney! I appreciate your kind words! And I’m sure at some point I will take you up on that offer. It seems like everyday there is something new to learn and to figure out!

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