Mia Dela Cruz- Soriano is remembered by her high school peers as a very bubbly girl who always stole the scene during classroom skits. Her sunny smile is still there, and she makes it a point to keep in touch with her classmates from time to time. But there is a strong, determined side to her now as a doting mom to three-year-old Maia, who was recently diagnosed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The gregarious lady admits to becoming emotional when talk turns to her daughter.
“She was just like any other baby. She was bubbly, active, and loving. She smiled at us a lot. But unlike other kids her age, she didn’t respond when people called her either by name or by getting her attention. She had fun when she played, but Maia didn’t join in with other kids, even if it was just running or throwing the ball. She preferred to build towers, stack cups, or line up crayons by herself,” she remembers.
“It was mostly the same scenario at home but a little better. I remember her turning her head in my direction when I called, but perhaps it was because I was with her all the time. She also didn’t hold eye contact with most people but she did it sometimes for her father and me. This was why we thought it was a simple delay and not ASD. Realizing that she may be within the spectrum was a process for us,” she adds.
Mia continues, “Maia had 2 cousins who were born 9 and 6 months earlier, against whom we were able to compare her development. Compared to them, she didn’t talk right away, and when Maia did start to mouth words, she usually reserved her vocal prowess for us at home. Also, even though Maia was strong, she was also less physically coordinated.”