Welcome to my blog "Raising Ralph". I am a mother of two children, a wife and I have a full time career. I started this blog to let mothers out there you are not the only one who feels overwhelmed, stressed, and have no time for yourself. Here is a blog that you can relate to and its alright to have a bad day. I am raising an autistic son, a four year old daughter and dreams of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
In 2012, shortly after Ralph's second birthday our life started to change. Ralph was two years old and not hitting all of the milestones for a typical two year old. We noticed he was not talking as much as he should, he stopped dancing to music, he did not have any eye contact when you were talking to him directly all these signs were letting us know something was going on.
As a first time mom, I didn't want to believe something was wrong with my son. Family members began to notice there was something awry, started asking questions, giving unsolicited advice to us and kept saying the unthinkable. I refused to believe it, I would get angry and upset and question "why" they would say these hurtful things about my son. In my mind he was fine, he was just slow to talk it wasn't a big deal every kid is different. It wasn't until one day, picking up Ralph from daycare, the teacher pulled me aside to let me know about an incident that happened and how my son reacted. During the day they had a shelf that stored instruments and other things, the shelf gave way and everything came crashing down. The entire class reacted to the loud noise except Ralph, he was the closest to the shelf and he barely turned around. She told us we should get his hearing tested. This was the day my world had a crack in it.
We took Ralph to our pediatrician and that's when the testing began. She was advised us that for some time she was seeing some delays in milestones and she was happy that we were testing him.The first step we took Ralph for a hearing test, it showed that he was hearing as though he was under water, there was fluid blockages in both ears. Now we knew this is why he stopped dancing to music, he couldn't hear it. So we then went to a pediatric ENT and there they advised us Ralph need tubes in his ears because they were unable to drain the fluid in his ear canals. So we had the surgery and we were optimistic this would correct the delay in communication. But it didn't, he still was not talking he barely had 50 words at two when he should have double the vocabulary.
Here is where I really struggled to wrap my head around something being wrong with my precious boy. My husband, already started researching possible things wrong and tried to talk to me about his findings. I would get very upset, cry and shut down. I felt like I was to blame with what was going on with Ralph, like I didn't notice something was wrong, how could I have missed it? Did I do something wrong during my pregnancy to cause this? Was it the vaccinations? Why was God punishing me? Why did my son have to have something wrong, we were good people, I did everything by the book during my pregnancy? There are people who do drugs and their kids are perfectly fine. Why? These are all the thoughts were racing through my mind for months.
Until one day, I woke up early one with a heavy heart. I found a quiet place where I bared it all to God. I wept openly and asked God to give strength to overcome my own feelings of self pity and let me see what God has blessed me with; a beautiful son, a beautiful family, a loving husband, a career, a beautiful home and supportive family. I gave all my worry and doubt to God, and vowed to use every fiber of me to protect, help and love my son.
We started with getting Ralph tested at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. They evaluated Ralph and determined he had a "developmental delay" with communication, with a possibility of him being on the spectrum of Autism. His motor skills were fine. Here's where the work begins, we were able to get Ralph enrolled with the Early Child Develop Program for Autism. As we went through the program the first two years, it was determined by his evaluations he was indeed on the spectrum.
Immediately we enrolled Ralph into private speech therapy and occupational therapy twice a week. He has now moved to the Autism Program within his elementary school. In the last three years, we have seen Ralph make great strides with his verbal communication. We are not where we need to be but we are slowly going in the right direction.
The work doesn't stop there as they grow you face new challenges every day. Get to know the teachers, the principal and stay involved. Make sure you educate yourself on your rights as a parent, be a part of his development of his Individual Education Plan (IEP), and be your child's biggest advocate. If you don't no one else will, you are the one who loves them the most. Don't be afraid to speak up, hold people accountable, and require equality and opportunities for your child.
My advice to parents starting out on this journey, is to look to God for strength, support of family and friends and know God has chosen you to raise this special little person because you too are special in the eyes of God. I hope that my blog inspires others to share their experiences. I will continue to share my journey.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.