On August 21, 2012, our beautiful boy Dominic was born. He showed some remarkable talents when he was a newborn. His legs never stopped moving except when he was asleep. We continuously commented on what an incredible runner he was going to be. His temperament was gentle, he generally only cried when he was hungry, and he played with toys that jingled for lengthy periods of time.
I had the resource for child development within reach that gave a general timeframe for important milestones and I started to be concerned. I took him to my GP but since Dominic was meeting his height and weight goals and some of the typical milestones, my doctor dismissed my concerns. But a mother’s intuition is usually right – Dominic’s body seemed to be extremely flexible, which made it challenging for him to get his balance and to learn to crawl and subsequently to walk.
I insisted on his seeing a pediatrician who could assess him. The pediatrician diagnosed him with “low tone” and was convinced he had no further developmental issues. I pressed for genetic testing and was met with resistance. Fortunately I persisted. The test revealed that Dominic had two minor-chromosome deletions – he would be the first child diagnosed with this combination of deletions – it was anticipated that these deletions would affect his cognition and his heart but to what extent was still a mystery.
Dominic started physiotherapy and learned to crawl and many months later he learned to walk. On his second birthday, we celebrated his birth and his new-found zest for life – he could walk and we were ecstatic!
Learning to control his limbs to be able to walk was a challenge that Dominic was happy to work on. Another talent of Dominic’s was his acute hearing – it’s remarkable – he could literally hear a pin drop. He also seemed to be extremely curious - he would move from one toy to another and be in constant motion. And he was so quiet! Again, it is love and care that you give your child that provides you with information that the specialists do not have. His preference for jingling toys close to his ears for long periods, his quietness, and his ability to be constantly moving from one object to another indicated that perhaps other factors were at play.
His new pediatrician was finally convinced to send Dominic for autism testing based on the keen observations of his physiotherapist; she had spent the most time with Dominic – much more than his pediatrician, the specialists at Children’s Hospital, and his GP. Her documentation of the characteristics of autism and what she observed in Dominic were key to his getting assessed. On the day of the tests, two specialists observed him for a significant period of time and their diagnosis was quick and definitive: our darling boy is a child with autism.
As in many things in life, life takes you on a journey you never expected to take. We have learned to be his advocates, to ask questions, to research, to get connected to the best specialists, doctors, and teachers who can assist him. We have learned a great deal from Dominic and as life continues, we will learn a great deal more.
We choose to focus on the positives – he’s happy, he’s healthy, he’s loving, he’s beautiful, and he loves music. He’s saying more words and if you listen really closely, sometimes you can decipher a sentence. He loves being around other children, going to school, and playing alphabet and number games on his iPad, but the highlight of his week is definitely his swimming therapy classes.
His smile and beautiful eyes shine a light on and in all of us. He is our darling boy whom we love and adore.