How can you tell what autism looks like in a toddler?
“I didn’t realize anything was off with Ainsley,” says Mary. But, the family’s pediatrician referred Ainsley to a developmental psychologist to have her tested for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Mary assumed the pediatrician was mistaken. “She was a great baby. We were happy,” she says. “But, I did start to admit she didn’t have great eye contact, didn’t respond when her name was called and didn’t really try to communicate. Still, I thought she just wasn’t ready yet.”
So, Mary was shocked when Ainsley was diagnosed with autism at age 2. “I thought my life was over,” recalls Mary. “I didn’t know anything about autism, but I was worried about what it would mean for her and what people would think of her.”
As Ainsley got older, she started having issues with severe behavior. Going places, even their local grocery store, was a challenge for Ainsley. “Half the time I didn’t know what to do,” says Mary. “In the car, she’d scream and climb out of her car seat. At the store or playground, she’d fall on the floor, pull her hair and try to kick herself, or me. It was overwhelming.”
The family finds hope at Marcus Autism Center
The family heard about Marcus Autism Center from a friend. When Ainsley started school, she was struggling to adjust, and the family had trouble working with the school. But undaunted, Mary came to workshops at Marcus Autism Center determined to learn as much as she could about what Ainsley needed and how she could help her.
It was when Mary attended the center’s two-day Toilet Training Seminar that she got her first look at how Marcus Autism Center uses protocols and data sheets to help care givers with interventions.
“I didn’t get how I was going to potty train a nonverbal child,” recalls Mary. “After the seminar, I called one of the doctors at Marcus, and he was so patient and answered my follow-up questions. They guided me through, and I did exactly what they said—line by line—and my kid was potty- trained in three days.”
Shortly after, Ainsley participated in the center’s Feeding Program. While Ainsley wasn’t underweight, eating was always difficult for her. She had severe behavior at mealtime and little to no interest in food, which took a big toll on the family’s quality of life.