My husband, Adam Prose has lived in Ottumwa all his life and I, Marci Prose have lived in Ottumwa since our marriage about 10 years ago. We had our first child, Elaine about 9 years ago and our second child Izabella about 6 years ago. About two and a half years ago my husband and I had a life changing experience. Our third child, our first son entered into this world July 7, 2010 we named him David James. From the moment he was born our lives changed, not only was it the change of having a new child to care for but he went above and beyond in needing care. I knew from birth that there was something different about David. We exhausted possibilities of what could be wrong in his first year-two years of life. We visited doctor after doctor all in hopes that someone would find out what caused our son the trouble he was having. He wasn’t a normal happy baby that we had experienced with our two girls, he didn’t smile, he didn’t laugh, he screamed for hours and never seemed to be happy and content and started missing childhood milestones.
When we took our son into the doctor at the age of two we had a little light shed on the subject, the answer was autism. We had evaluations and heard that our son who was 25 months at the time was really at a 10 month level on some of the developmental marks. It wasn’t a lack of parenting or a lack of trying on our part. My husband works on copiers at Bailey’s in Ottumwa but I stay at home to be with the children to have a parent present in their early education. I knew that we had tried to teach David. Those were challenging times trying to figure out autism and what exactly it was. Neither my husband nor I had ever had experience with autism and frankly it scared us. We didn’t know where to start but there were people who did, the same people who evaluated our son and told us he had autistic tendencies. The therapist did not diagnosis our son autistic but at least had the answers of what road we needed to travel down. We started therapy in the fall and after just a few therapy sessions our son started changing. The stress of our family started declining. He started getting content and happy. David’s therapist come and spend about an hour with him every week and not only do they work with him on skills, they teach us how to teach him. I can’t even imagine what life would be like for us if they had not entered our son’s life.
I am inching closer to having three years in the battle on autism under my belt. The first two years I didn’t know what I was battling but I would have to say these last couple of months have been the easiest. Because of his therapists I not only have a clue as to what I’m fighting but they have equipped me with the tools I needed to fight this battle. I cannot imagine continuing my battle alone.
I hope that in the future as autism rates increase families will continue to get the support they need from the AEA programs such as Early Access. The last battle these parents need to be facing is how they are supposed to face this battle alone. I understand that budget cuts happen. As a society we are very concerned about government programs and cutting spending. Many people wouldn’t understand why the Early Access programs are important but being in the midst of the program I can tell you that they are. Statistics prove autism is only growing so to shrink programs aimed at helping these children and parents would be horrible. Autism has many faces and one child with autism will be completely different to another so there isn’t a single “instruction manual” to use we can’t just expect these parents that will have children diagnosed to understand a spectrum disorder. That’s the value of these therapist, they have seen one on one the different faces of autism and can understand the intricacies that even us parents can’t see!