Bunso Has Mild Autism and It's Okay

May 29, 2015
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I was about to take the Nursing Licensure Examination when I learned that I was pregnant with my second and youngest child. Honestly, it took me almost a month before I embraced the fact that I was again blessed with a precious gift and my dream of becoming a registered nurse and a psychiatric nurse would be postponed. I had a very sensitive first pregnancy and I was afraid to experience it again too soon. "Everything happens for a reason.", as they say. I realized that God sent him to me because he would make my family more happy and complete. Kuya was our  only child for five years and his desire of having a baby sibling would make him the happiest boy in the world.

Like every parent's dream, I wished that Bunso would be the best person that he ought to be. We claimed that he would be a beautiful person inside and out,  perfect in the eyes of man as he or she would be perfect in the eyes of God.

Papa, Kuya, and I would always talk to my womb, saying all our wishes for Bunso like Papa and I did while I was conceiving Kuya. Everyday was such a happy day for everyone despite being very challenging for me. I had to be a mom to Kuya and wife to Papa while experiencing another difficult pregnancy. My body was frail but I was surrounded with a dependable family, to whom I was getting my strength. Mom was with us and she was my companion while Papa was working.

During the second trimester, I noticed that Bunso seldom moved. I told myself, I hope he would be more subdued than Kuya, a more quiet and peaceful boy as he grows.

I experienced labor pains that were more painful and had a quick and easy delivery compared to my first but Bunso was diagnosed with poor hearing in his left ear. His pediatrician told us to have him checked again after six months. After six months, his hearing was fine.

While he was growing up, Bunso was jolly, active, receptive, and have all the characteristics of a normal growing kid that were age appropriate. He seldom got sick. We were glad to see that he was growing up having most of Kuya's traits.

But when he reached 24 months, we noticed that his development somewhat became slower than the usual. He started not to respond when being called, didn't have an eye contact during conversations, refused to be read with stories, refrained from playing educational toys, didn't learn words the way other kids learn like his age, tore books, threw toys frequently, didn't want to wear clothes at home, only wanted to eat certain foods repeatedly, fixated with turning the lights on and off, would open and shut doors frequently, fascinated with flowing water and fireworks, only wanted to watch a particular movie for days, and had excessive energy. Papa and I were teachers. We knew for a fact that something was wrong with him. Based on our own observation and assessment, we already had a hint that he might be having a Global Development Delay (GDD) but most probably, Autism.

We observed that Bunso possessed the signs and symptoms of Autism indicated here right before his initial assessment by the developmental pediatrician. Courtesy: www.papermasters.com

We chose not to seek the help of a developmental pediatrician right away. We were hoping that as months would pass, Bunso's behavior and speech would improve. Then on June last year, when Bunso was three, we decided to set an appointment with the doctor who was referred by a friend. After six months of waiting and days before his fourth birthday, he finally had his initial assessment.

When the pediatrician informed us that Bunso was having the condition Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Mild, we were not surprised. We were smiling while the doctor was saying her verdict and by the look on her eyes, she was surprised with our reaction. Maybe she was expecting us to get devastated and angry but we weren't. We didn't feel any sadness or frustration at all because "We love our son unconditionally and accept him for who he is despite his imperfections."

"May itatanong po ba kayo? (Do you have questions?)", the doctor asked as if she was surprised with our positive reaction. Then Papa said, "May mga hindi pa po ba kami naitanong, Doktora? (Are there questions that we aren't able to ask, Doctor?)" Then the three of us laughed. We ended the conversation on a positive note. 

We were thankful that our son wouldn't take any medication. We were so glad that his  locomotion was at par with his age and his cognitive skills were two years advanced his age. The doctor prescribed occupational therapy three times a week and speech therapy once a week to improve his behavior and language because both were a year and a half delayed We were blessed that Bunso was considered highly functional. 

On the day of Bunso's initial check-up we were able to meet someone from the OT center  that was recommended by the doctor. We immediately visited the place. The interior, facilities, and environment were nice, warm, and conducive for learning. The staff was also very accommodating. The vibes was good. Bunso became at home immediately and we had an impression that he would surely love it there!

We saw big improvements on his behavior and speech (Take note, he didn't start his speech therapy yet.) after five months of his regular OT sessions. 

Now he's able to respond when being called, engages in conversations with eye contact, follows simple commands, does simple tasks, becomes more affectionate, learns more words, likes story telling and group playing, becomes more interested in books, tries to read on his own, is eager to show independence by preparing his own food, washing his own hands, keeping his own toys and clothes, and has wide food preferences. He loves being caressed with water that's why we let him enjoy the pool and he is not afraid of it. He's trying his best to swim and float on water. Eventually, when he is capable of understanding complex instructions, we will enroll him to formal swimming lessons.

Having an autistic child in the family is more challenging. He throws tantrums in public which makes us receive disgusted stares from people who don't understand and feel that we are bad parents. We can't try different restaurants whenever we go to the mall because he only wants to eat ice cream and Jollibee Spaghetti. Everywhere we go, we are supposed to drop by the nearest SM Supermarket in our place because it's part of his fixations and routines. Bunso is very strict when it comes to his routines and gets frustrated easily when he's not able to do things as he wants it to be. As mentioned by the doctor, we should be watchful about these aspects, because our son is highly functional, can live on his own in the future and is capable of entering in a relationship. We have to teach him on how to deal with frustrations properly because a routinary person and perfectionist like him may not be able to cope up when not guided accordingly. 

All of us in the house, even Kuya, has to make sacrifices to make everything go smoothly because everything is unpredictable with Bunso. Just recently he doesn't want to watch movies anymore. He only wants to listen to music. Sitti Navarro and One Direction are the only artists that we hear for months and both calm him down. It's okay and advantageous to all of us because Papa and I want to limit him and Kuya's exposure to television and gadgets. He's very active and doesn't sit still for longer periods. We always chase him around the house and gets him down when he is climbing windows and cabinets. As a middle class family, all of us should be conscious on how to use our financial resources. Bunso's therapy and needs are very, very expensive so we have to give up our personal wants just to make both ends meet. Through all these, we become extremely patient and giving.

There are times when Kuya's asking, "Mama why is Bunso like that?" Then we explain to him again and again what condition his brother has and that we have to understand him more but not to the extent that we spoil him. Firmness should be exercised with gentleness. Bunso is intelligent. He knows how to get our attention and little by little he knows his limitations and understands whether he is doing something good or bad. To make Kuya understand his brother's condition, I always encourage him to read the story, "There's a Duwende in My Brother's Soup" by Lara Saguisag, whenever he's coming to the point that he is losing patience with him and it helps all the time.

Papa and I are afraid of the future despite the doctor's assurance and the experts say that Bunso is capable of living a normal life.  All we have to do is believe that he can and guide him so that eventually he can go on with his life

On May 6, Bunso had his follow-up check up. The doctor told us that he was ready to attend SPED. She stressed out that it should be a special school and not a regular school. We told her that we had no intentions of forcing him to attend a regular school because  it would hinder his growth and his classmates and teachers would suffer too.  

We want him to study in a place where he deserves to be. We want him to soar high and reach his full potential in a school that fits him. We want him to be treated in a way that he is being understood. When he is already equipped with the necessary skills and behavior to fit in a regular school, then we will allow him to study there. 

I believe that our acceptance and love for him make him improve in all aspects. At first, we were afraid that he would be treated indifferently by others due to the "stigma" of having Autism. But we asked ourselves, "Why should we listen to what other people would say?" We treat him and Kuya fairly. We treat Bunso like he has no special condition. He is okay. We are okay. He may be different from others, but for us he is a true blessing from the Lord.

God gave us Bunso because right from the start He knew that we could take care of him and love him more than anyone else in this world.

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24 comments

  1. Thank God at ngrerespond siya sa therapy. Totoo sis, a lot of patience and hardwork para malagpasan nila. Same here hindi ko talaga hinayaang mabalewala ang condition ng 2 boys ko. Well, sending my prayers for your bunso and God bless your family. Hugs!!!!!!!!:-D

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    1. His therapists are very reliable and heaven sent talaga sila! Our family is so blessed because we are surrounded with loving and supportive friends and loved ones, Heart! Thank you so much! Same to you, Sis! Muah!

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  2. Awww...that was beautiful. Yes, we love our children unconditionally. What wonderful parents you are!

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    1. Thank you, May! It means so much to me. I thank the Lord for giving us understanding hearts.

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  3. Aw. Acceptance. I love this. Hugs to Bunso! :)

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    1. Thanks, Mayu! I always admire you for being such a strong mom for Carlisle. Yes, acceptance is the key to everyone's healing and improvement. Hugs to your precious one too!

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  4. This a wonderful and truly heartfelt post. You are a good mom and I pray for you and your family for provisions and support.

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    1. Thank you so much, Juvy! I am not a perfect mom but I do my best to show my kids the love and affection they deserve. My life will not be the same without them.

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  5. Hugs sis.. Thank God nagrerespond siya sa therapy. Kami mahaba padin ang pagdadaaanan. Kaya natin to. With God's love surely our children will continue to prosper and get well in all aspects.

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    1. Kaya natin ito, Heart! Hugs to you too! Let's pray for our kids' fast improvement.

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  6. Inspiring! We always have a choice to be happy and accept what God has given us. It's ok to be different and with our loving family around all will be ok no matter how tough times may get.

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    1. Thank you, Que! Happiness is a choice. Counting our blessings will make us more blessed. Yes, indeed. Our loving family gives us strength and reason to keep moving forward.

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  7. Such an inspiring post. God bless your family always.

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    1. Thanks, Michelle! God bless you and your family.

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  8. Speechless. Salute to you and your Hubby and Kuya. With all your love and guidance, for sure Bunso will grow-up a good and loving person. God Bless your family more.

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    1. We also pray for more patience and resources to provide for Bunso's needs in all aspects. We believe and claim that he can. Thanks, Olive!

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  9. "God gave us Bunso because right from the start He knew that we could take care of him and love him more than anyone else in this world.." -- Truly, He knows what's best for all of us even if at times we are clueless of His plans. You have a very loving family, Joyce. Praying for all of you. God bless! Miss you! Mwah!

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    1. Thanks, Kat! God bless you too! Miss you na! Hindi tayo nagkita sa Peryang Adarna.

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  10. sister, in case you'll be looking for one, I can point you to a mommy friend who also have a son na may mild autism :) their devped is in Manila lang.. malapit lang sayo

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    1. Thanks, Mommy Pehpot! I really appreciate your concern. It means so much to me. Bunso's developmental pedia is just a stone throw away from our place. Baka we have the same doctor pa! Hehehe. :)

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  11. Same po tayo mommy my autism din anak a year ago pa.nung ma diagnose siya nasa low functioning po siya.mahirap po tanggapin kahit ngayon.madalas pa din yung naiiyak ako natutula.pero malaki na inimproved nya twice a week ot and once a week speech nya.

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    1. I understand your situation. Tayong may mga anak na may autism, iba't iba ang ating pagtanggap sa sitwasyon at ito rin ay naayon sa tamang panahon na handa na tayong tanggapin ang kundisyon ng ating mga anak. In my case, sa simula pa lang alam na namin at confirmation na lang ng doktor ang nagpatunay na tama ang aming hinala na ang aming bunso ay may autism. We treat him as a normal kid and we accept him for who he is. Malaking factor sa kanyang improvement ang pagtanggap at pagmamahal namin sa kanya. Let us believe that our kids can be the best persons that they can be in the future. Kaya nila, maniwala tayo. Binigay sila ng Diyos sa atin kasi alam Niya na kaya natin silang bigyan ng lubus-lubos na pagmamahal at atensyon. Hugs to you, Mommy! Kaya natin ito! God bless.

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  12. Hi SJ. I believe that early acceptance really helps when you have a kid or you have kids with special needs.

    A neighbor once told me that God chooses those families who will be blessed with special kids. We are so fortunate that we were among the chosen ones because He knew from the start we will be capable of bringing up our kids right.

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  13. Hi SJ, such an inspiring post. Our eldest son may also have autism (in fact, I do feel na meron), we already had him assessed sa DevPed kaya lang after two check ups di pa din kami sinasabihan kung ano talaga case nya. Im wondering if you can share your bunso's DevPed. TIA!

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