Hi! I am Jecelyn, Tito’s better half. Let me continue with the story from where my husband left off.
And so we brought Zander to a developmental pediatrician (DevPed) last January 2016, based on the recommendations of the doctor that he be assessed for ASD. The DevPed suggested that we enroll Zander to a playgroup for him to be able to socialize and learn discipline. He added that maybe Zander is just delayed in speech and just need some time to catch up. Zander was then scheduled for a re-assessment when he turns 3.5 years old. We followed the DevPed’s advice and enrolled the twins to a playgroup.
On their first day in the playgroup, Phil was so scared. He did not want to go inside the room. He just hugged me tightly. The teacher allowed me to seat-in for five days to allow Phil to adjust since he did not want to be left in class. On the other hand, the new environment did not bother Zander at all. He just went inside the room right away. He was not interested with other children, though. He would just go around the room, opening cabinets, climbing up tables or lining up toys. After a while I could see him either sucking his thumb or lying on the floor flapping his feet. The boys did not participate in the school activity with action songs. They would both cover their ears. After a few days, I have observed some improvement with Phil. I was able to leave both of them in class. Phil can comply with the tasks given to them, while Zander needed maximum assistance. But still, they were not interacting with other children.
On October 2016, Zander’s follow up appointment, we were told that the DevPed we previously consulted with had already left the center. We were then referred to another DevPed from the same center. The new DevPed pointed out that the previous DevPed had a more conservative approach. She mentioned that Zander should have been recommended for an assessment for ASD right after our first visit. She also informed us that ASD can be detected as early as 18 months.
But my!!! The assessment fees were very costly. I can still remember my husband’s reaction (eyes and mouth wide open) when the DevPed told us the fees involved. Good thing we had a fund reserved for cases such as this. Otherwise wouldn’t have gone through with the assessment.
So we decided to proceed with Zander’s assessment. We were given questionnaires – for both parents and teachers – to rate Zander’s milestones, social behavior and other relevant information. The assessment involves a school visit by the DevPed. Zander will be observed on his behavior in class. There was a one-on-one session to assess his behavior when he is on his own. And another one-on-one session to assess his IQ. There was also a parent interview where the DevPed asked us about our observation on Zander’s behavior.
On Dec. 23, 2016 the result of the assessment was discussed to us. As the DevPed was explaining her observations confirming that Zander falls under the autism spectrum, I was barely listening. I was trying to control my emotions else I would have cried in front of the DevPed. The diagnosis highlights the need for support on social communication, restricted and repetitive behaviors and language impairment. Zander lacks socialization and communication with peers. He has sensitivity to sound and touch. He is also very active.
Zander was recommended to undergo occupational therapy and early intervention. We enrolled him to these session for one term (10 weeks) only. The sessions were too costly and financially unsustainable for us. That is why we decided to go back to the Philippines (Phil, Zander and I).
It takes time to get an appointment with the DevPed. In the Philippines, the wait or a DevPed appointment usually takes around 6 months to 1 year. This is due to the limited number of practicing DevPeds in the Philippines. In Bacolod, we have two DevPeds.
We were initially scheduled for a consultation in July 2017. Luckily, we were able to secure a slot in April 2017 with another DevPed in Bacolod City. We decided to have both Phil and Zander assessed. Zander to get a second opinion and just to check for Phil.
On the day of the appointment, the moment we entered the clinic, Phil started running around. The DevPed immediately brought this behavior to my attention. After the evaluation, the DevPed told me that Phil is also in the spectrum. Honestly, though I had concerns about Phil’s condition, I still could not believe what he was saying.
All the while we thought that Phil was a normal, typical boy. We thought that he is just delayed in speech and that was it. Phil is in a far better state compared with Zander. He has more language, is less active and has more focus. The evaluation pointed out that Phil displayed speech delay with inconsistent social communication skills. He has repetitive and restricted behaviors, echolalia and hypersensitivity to sound. He also has hyperactivity and inconsistent response to commands.
For Zander’s case the DevPed concurred with the diagnosis of the DevPed from Singapore.
Now, our current predicament is that both of our sons are in the spectrum. What happens now? What do we do?