Meet Josephine, also known as Josie to those close to her. She is an angelic looking, darling 3 year old girl who was diagnosed with autism at two years old. I absolutely loved spending time with her! She ran off to her room when I showed up, but let me take photos of her, showing me some of her toys. I even got an amazing hug from her before I left, which, according her mom, are not given to just anyone, so I felt incredibly special.
Josephine was a fussy eater from birth. In fact, the day after she was born, her parents had to buy dozens of different nipples in order to find just the right texture for her to eat. Even as a baby, Josephine rarely made eye contact. At daycare she didn't play with the other babies, preferring to play by herself. She also never played with toys like other children her age, instead she would collect random items and line them up around the house. Around 18 months she regressed. Josephine would no longer drink from cups and would only eat crunchy, solid foods. Around that time, her parents had her evaluated.
Josephine is pure sunshine when you get to know her. She loves to hug and laugh, and she has a very silly sense of humor. She is also very empathetic and seems to pick up on the emotions of others. Josie enjoys lining up pretty much anything, including, but not limited to, toiletries from the family bathroom. She loves music, her current favorite is the Jack Johnson station on Pandora. Josie also enjoys collecting figurines, Care Bear figurines have been her latest favorite.
Josie struggles to socialize with others, especially with children. She has a hard time communicating, at home they are working on building communication using pictures. Her biggest struggle has always been eating. She will only eat a few select foods and they must be hard and/or crunchy in texture. Somedays she will hardly eat anything at all. She pretty much lives off of Pediasure, and that gets snuck into her milk throughout the day by her parents.
From Josephine's parents:
"Having a child with Autism can be challenging and stressful at times, but I cannot imagine my daughter any other way. She is unapologetically different. I wouldn't change a thing about her."
When children have little or no verbal communication, PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), can allow them to communicate through pictures. This can be done by the child handing another person a picture of what they want. Giving them this way to communicate can help beyond the obvious, but can increase verbal communication, decrease meltdowns and encourage socialization. Learn a little more about PECS HERE. Feel free to comment, and I will do my best to give you more information or resources.