Alisha’s twin sons Xander and Royal were diagnosed with autism when they were 4 years old. Today, they are 11 and thriving with the help of their devoted mom, behavioral therapists, and Dr. Andrew Martinez, a psychologist and program director at the Comprehensive Autism Program at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. We asked Alisha to share her experience through the following Q&A.
When and how did you first find out about your children’s diagnosis? I noticed significant delays in developmental milestones and behaviors with my twins at a very young age. Speech, smiling, eating, and drinking were minimal to nonexistent. They also displayed daily, repetitive unique, rhythmic mannerisms, motions, and patterns. Those were some of the cues that gave me enough concern to suspect the twins may have autism.
The love I had for my boys outweighed any fear I had of a diagnosis. Whatever it might be, I needed help and information. So I took the initiative to ask their primary care provider for an evaluation for autism spectrum disorder. Without pause, I received the referral for both boys to be seen and evaluated by Dr. Martinez. After testing, he confirmed the diagnosis. Both twins had autism. Each child was sitting at their own spot on the spectrum. They each had their own set of strengths, gifts, and challenges. That is where our journey began.
Describe your treatment plan. Why did you choose this treatment plan? Royal and Xander both receive one-on-one Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy. I chose this specialized therapy because they each have a personalized treatment plan specifically outlined for them. The goals for my children are carefully planned and written out by a program manager, then reviewed and approved by their doctor. My input as an involved parent is always incorporated into their treatment. ABA therapy can be hard, it is work, but that is precisely why I wanted my boys to have it. ABA therapy is the gold standard of care for any child on the autism spectrum. The payoff has been incredible for our family.
What has your experience been like with The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Autism Program? My experience at the CHofSA Autism Clinic has been nothing but positive, informative, and helpful. Royal and Xander are almost 11 years old now. It is hard to put into words the change in my boys since they have been in care. There have been remarkable improvements all the way around. Speech. Behavior. Demeanor. Understanding. Social interaction. Everything. Had I not reached out to the clinic for help, none of this would have been possible.
What would you tell other families who have just received a diagnosis? When my little twins were officially diagnosed, I was confused, frustrated, and scared. You may be feeling all of this and much more. Try to take comfort in knowing this. Now that you know, you can do something about it. There is so much power in information! The help, peace, and clarity you are seeking for yourself all come with this diagnosis. The number of helpful resources available to you and your family is endless. The heights your child can reach are limitless. The love and support your child receives at home counts more than anything else.
Anything else you would like to add? The love I have for Royal and Xander is boundless. That is why I will always be their voice and their most fierce advocate. In all things, I have been and will continue to be the voice for other children and families in need of a helping hand as well. Royal and Xander are not only twin brothers. They are best friends. Where one is weak, the other is strong. Most importantly, they both know Mama is right there to pick up any slack when necessary.
If you need more information about autism, talk to your child’s pediatrician and request a referral for an autism evaluation.