The Faces of Autism: Meet Sonja
Meet Sonja, a smart, social, empathetic 6 year old girl that is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Sonja was featured last year, you can find that story HERE to get a refresher.
Sonja was diagnosed at 2.5 years old with Autism. At 2 years old, Sonja wasn't talking, she had words previously, but lost them. Autism wasn't on the radar for her parents. Sonja started Early Intervention and the Speech Therapist that was working with her sat down with her mom and expressed her suspicions. She then helped start the diagnosis process with them.
Sonja loves to hide gifts and cuddle; she is amazing at puzzles! Sonja has a difficult time with bathing because she has a hard time regulating how much pressure to use with the was cloth and often her sensory issues makes it very uncomfortable. She also struggles with transitions. For example, moving from home to school, school to horse riding. She LOVES these places, but just has a very hard time when it's time to go from one to the next.
Since last year Sonja has blossomed socially. Her parents realized recently that she didn't actually know the names of her classmates in preschool, so they have learned to focus on using people's names and she has all the names down pat now! Sonja is also able to play by herself without direct supervision now. She is able to find a parent when she gets hurt, but still can't tell them how she was hurt. They have to be careful when prompting her what *could have happened* she will often accept that as what actually happened.
About having a child with Autism, from Sonja's parents:
"It's hard, so hard. But also amazing. If you find your tribe, the group of friends who know what you are going through. What you mean when you say IEP, PECS, PT, OT, and all the other fun things we talk about. When we complain about certain struggles but that doesn't mean we love our children any less. Once you build that support system everything seems a little easier.
Special needs parents aren't "warriors" we are just parents. Like everyone else."
"I have met the most amazing people in BisMan Autism Families. I have found my best friends, the second "mom"s to my kids, and the people who cheer and cry and love and suffer along my child's journey right along with me. I feel the same way about their child's journey too."
I always ask if the child has anything to say about having Autism, and Sonja had the greatest response, so I have to share!
Sonja's Mom: "Sonja, do you have autism?"
Mom: "How does that make you feel?"
Mom: "Do you know what Autism is?"
Sonja: "That it makes you feel happy."
If you suspect your child may have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are great supports in the community. One of my favorites is BisMan Autism Families on Facebook, which Sonja's mom mentioned above.
Please feel free to share Sonja's story to help spread Autism Awareness and Acceptance.
HERE is an article that touches on transitions and gives a few tips that may work if your child has a hard time transitioning. Just like with neurotypical children, not every thing will work for every child, sometimes it is a trial and error thing to figure it out.