Concern for Maia Mia recalls that other people were starting to see the signs from the beginning. “Primarily, there was my brother who was concerned that Maia didn’t respond to him as much as his other niece did. Then there were my parents who suspected it but found it hard to open up the topic with us for fear of hurting our feelings. Even a family friend who had 2 nephews with autism suggested that Maia be checked by a specialist when she saw Maia stack plastic cups as play. Finally, my husband’s aunt suggested that we bring her to a doctor to get assessed. It was hard to even agree to it, because we believed that she was normal. But given that other people had already made little suggestions, we agreed to go. Hard as it was then, we’re happy we followed her advice.”
Mia talks of their first consultation. “We were initially recommended to a developmental pediatrician, who told us that Maia did have a ‘developmental delay’, but he couldn’t be certain then if it was ASD, as Maia was just 1 year and 10 months old at the time. Based on certain developmental milestones, Maia surpassed expectations in some, but was not able to meet other milestones for her age. He told us to try certain activities such as enroll Maia in a play school to develop her social skills, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. He also recommended for us to get a high-resolution chromosomal analysis for Maia just to see if there are markers for autism. The results showed none. We were told to come back in 6 months.”
“While we waited and followed his recommendations as much as we could, we were told of another developmental pediatrician who is said to be one of the best in the field. It took us almost a year to get an appointment.”
Grief, support, and sources of strength “The second developmental pediatrician, who is Maia’s current one, confirmed that she has ASD. By that time, Maia was 2 years and 10 months old,” Mia recounts.
She gets frank and emotional: “At first, I thought I was ready for it. I mean, you wouldn’t go around taking your child to specialists if you didn’t have any inkling, but it is always difficult when the doctor confirms your worst fears. I felt very sad and almost depressed. I initially thought about her future -- about how she will manage being alone when her father and I eventually leave this world. I think and believe that I passed all the different levels of grief. I cannot answer for my husband, Cupid, but I know that he was very sad about it, too. But instead of grieving about it, he chose to think positive and be strong for me. I see him cry sometimes. We both still do, from time to time.”
Mia is thankful for her husband’s unwavering strength throughout their challenges. “His support is very important. I believe that if it weren’t for Cupid, I would be a complete and total emotional wreck by now. He is my rock. He taught me (actually, he still is teaching me) how to be strong for both him and Maia. I don’t want to be a burden to him so I’m trying to keep my end of the bargain. Besides God, Cupid and Maia are my biggest sources of strength now. Next to them are my family and Cupid’s family.”