Jacey is a 6 year old girl who was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder at 4 years old. She is a wonderful girl with a great smile who was excited for me to be there to take her photos and show me how she plays her keyboard! She is funny, creative, and strong willed. And she has such an amazing, infectious smile!
When Jacey was younger she wasn't very talkative (I'm pretty sure that has changed, she was quite chatty with me!) and didn't seem to care whether she was around people or not. She didn't show much affection, bumped into things a lot, and had a hard time with transitions. Jacey had major "tantrums" that included breaking things and hitting things. She had gotten kicked out of three separate daycares in a months time for these tantrums and behaviors.
When Jacey was 2.5 years old, she was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Persuasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified) and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). PDD-NOS is "a general category used to describe a pattern of behavioral differences (which may include deviations, excesses, or difficulties) in the areas of social relating, communication, and attention/interest. Children who demonstrate a number of characteristics or symptoms in these three areas, and whose problems are not better explained by other disorders, may receive a diagnosis of PDD. This diagnosis may also be applied if the child exhibits a variety of symptoms associated with Autism, but in an unusual pattern." *explanation taken from Emory Autism Center.*
Jacey's parents say that their experience with Autism has gotten easier over the years as they learn more. The first three years of her life were terrifying, not knowing what was wrong with their child and having pediatricians, friends and others saying Jacey was okay, just a strong willed little girl. Trying to seek out help for Jacey was frustrating, going through multiple referrals, physicians not knowing how to help, and each organization telling them something different. Trying to pick the right daycare and therapy workers was nerve-wracking, always worrying about picking the right one.
Jacey wants others to know that she does want to have friends. She does want to be around people. She gets frustrated when she can't quite get the words out she wants to say, so she needs people to have patience with her. When she blows up or has meltdowns, she feels horrible about it afterward and if she could fully control that, she would.