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Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

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A Reader’s Theatre, By Joy Cowdery continued...

Beth Ann: Craven was born four weeks premature. I watched him for developmental milestones daily. Everything seemed to going well for the first five months. All of a sudden, at six months, I noticed that Craven was not cooing or babbling like a typical six-month-old. Of course, my mother and husband thought I was crazy. I was “just looking for something to be wrong.”  Just to shut me up, my husband said, “Just go have him tested so you can quit worrying.” I did. Craven was started in speech therapy the next day. At ten months old, my husband and I were told by three therapists that they thought Craven had autism. Now they were telling me that there was something wrong…with Craven… with our genes…with our unborn child I was now carrying. What had I done?
My husband cried immediately, “Not my son. He acts nothing like Rain Man.” Four years into this, my parents and his are still not convinced.

Karen: Our life as we knew it was over. Making adjustments by just having a baby was enough, but talk about overwhelming. I was numb and so was my husband. That first week I didn’t have time to think about much. I was sent home to wait and worry if my son was going to live. I would sit and cry and avoid people. They had said that they could “fix” him once he was born. I just kept thinking, why is God punishing me? What could I have done? So many questions and no answers...Joey is my first and only child. I don’t know what it is like to have a “normal” child. I have never been able to fully enjoy just being a new mom.

Jill: Mason was 15 months old when we received his diagnosis of Angelman syndrome. He was 9 months old when we first knew something wasn’t right. At first, our pediatrician told us to put the baby books away and enjoy him since he was just a “lazy baby” and would catch up soon enough. At 12 months when he wasn’t sitting on his own, we pushed further. His neurologist ordered a battery of tests, all of which came back normal, and then steered us towards physical therapy and early intervention, again all the while assuring us he was just a little on the slow side, but she was sure he would surprise us all and take off. A few months later, I sought genetic testing on my own with a free genetic clinic. The call came one bleak March afternoon. He called my husband and announced that Mason had Angelman syndrome and asked what type of seizure medicine he was on. “Seizures? Angelman?” My husband hung up and called me at work. I headed home and straight for the computer. Reading the information on the Angelman website was like watching a horrible car wreck in slow motion. I felt like I had a boulder sitting in the pit of my stomach. I stood up from the computer ready to vomit... My husband grabbed me crying and we clung together sobbing without knowing what to say.

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