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See the Able… NOT the Label

“Why would you want her to be diagnosed with Autism?” “Why do you want to add another label?” “She already has so much else going on, why add more?”

Why? Why? WHY? We were asked these questions countless times when we talked about wanting and finally getting Hadley tested for Autism. I have to admit, when Eric first mentioned getting her tested, I felt like she wasn’t, there wasn’t a point in putting her through the testing, in my mind, she was not Autistic, or that’s what I kept telling myself. I was in complete denial.

For years, I am talking at least 3 years, Eric kept saying we should get her tested. I would take her to her regular checkups with her pediatrician and I would work up the nerve to ask him. He would say he didn’t think that she was. She makes great eye contact and has great social skills.

As the years passed, I started seeing more and more the signs of Autism and I was finally on board to get her tested. You learn a lot belonging to so many special needs communities. I am so grateful I could see how their children acted and things that their children would do and realize that hey Hadley does that same thing. Things were tough. Hadley had become very aggressive, her frustrations were getting stronger and stronger, she just seemed upset all the time, would have major meltdowns and tantrums. It was so hard to watch and even harder because we didn’t know how to help her.

That was when we went full force in finding somewhere to get in her to be evaluated and tested. The doctor they had referred us to was booked out for three years! She would be 10 years old by that point and we knew couldn’t wait that long to get her tested. We reached out to friends and family all over, looking for a doctor to take her too. There was no limit to how far we would travel to get it done.

Luckily, I had met the most amazing lady when I did some advocacy work for the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. She reached out to the doctor whose waitlist was 3 years long and could get us in immediately. There isn’t a day that goes by that I am not thankful for JoAnna and all her help! She was a godsend to us and Hadley.

We had our initial evaluation in August 2021. The doctor was great and during the evaluation he gave Hadley a provisional Autism diagnosis so that we could get her started in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy right away since there was a 3 month waitlist to get her tested.

Hadley started ABA a few weeks after that appointment. We couldn’t believe the difference we saw in her from the very first day. She seemed happier. Her aggression and frustration weren’t near as bad. She was like a new person.

When we went back for the official testing a couple months later, her doctor was so impressed with how well she was responding to ABA. Hadley did the testing the best she could and we came back a couple months later for the results. We got the OFFICIAL diagnosis of Autism and it was the biggest relief I had felt in a while.

Hadley has been thriving in ABA therapy. We call it going to school. She goes for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. She is so excited to go every day and misses it on days that she doesn’t.

That is why we do it, we do it to find the help for our children. It’s not putting another label on them. It’s opening more doors for them, it’s getting the right therapies, it’s helping your child. Plain and simple, that is what it comes down to. Helping your child.

Let me leave you with this one last thing… YOU know your child best. I tell people all the time, if you feel you need to have your child tested or evaluated for anything, DO IT! Don’t let others influence you, change your mind, or make you feel any kind of way. That is your child and you have to look out for what is best for them. Don’t ever feel alone. There are so many amazing resources and communities that are there to help you!

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