My name is Uyen.
From the very first day I noticed my daughter had some strange behaviors, I was constantly struggling with myself and my in-laws to find the answer about my child’s behavior.
Before my daughter turned 2 years old, her overall development was very good, in fact, somewhat more advanced than children of her age. For example, she knew all 26 letters at 10 months old! She could recognize both Vietnamese and Chinese alphabets and sing well. (My husband is Chinese so we spoke several languages at home). However, I noticed that she never crawled or flipped.
When she reached 2, her development started to regress. She was very self-directed, running constantly without feeling tired. Most importantly she no longer said words or understood as much as she used to. She only said one to two words and did not make eye contact with others. She would not respond when we called her name. Also, she was very distracted and couldn’t concentrate much.
I went to our family doctor seeking for advice, but he did not acknowledge the problem and said that I was over-worried. I still remember the doctor told me, “It’s normal for a two-year-old to speak only two words.” Once again, with the instinct of a mother, I looked up the information online and learned that these strange behaviors that my daughter had might be related to Autism. Learning that Autism is a developmental disorder and there is no cure, I felt so scared. I was wondering what would happen to her and what her future would look like. So many sleepless nights …. Then I realized, if I was just sitting here with my sadness and did not do anything, I would have been in deep regret.
I decided to look for another pediatrician. Perhaps God saw my effort and helped me find a good doctor. I switched to a new doctor and told her about my daughter’s symptoms. As soon as the doctor heard my concerns, she made a referral to connect my daughter to a specialist.
Then I met Ms. Thuong, a person with a big heart. She listened to my concerns and wholeheartedly helped me and my daughter. She assisted me to help my daughter’s language and behaviors. She encouraged me to have my daughter evaluated by a specialized team. When I heard her suggestion, I was very hesitant… I was so afraid that my child would be labeled as a special need child for life! Now looking back, if that day I kept denying and not allowing her to be evaluated, how would she have been able to receive such great assistance from many interventions and specialists?
The most important message I would like to give to all parents is to “take action!” Parents, do you love your child or you are actually afraid of being judged? For me, thinking about the time that I had to fight with myself, with my in-laws on whether to get support for my daughter, going to work full-time, attending school full-time, and taking my daughter to different services every day, I was proud of myself. I hope you, parents, will also take action on your child’s behalf.
My daughter is now 8 years old. When she was 5 she successfully passed the Fluency Test certified by the State of California. She is now very insightful and understands many stories. She has great eye contact when talking to others. I can see that she develops normally.
Once again, I would like to thank Ms. Thuong for helping my family gain a better understanding about special needs children, about autism, and providing me with great support. I hope Ms. Thuong will help many more children develop healthily.
(Ms. Uyen, mother of a special need child)