derek slideApril 2, 2010 was the day that I was blessed with the greatest gift, my third child first son Derek. When he was born he was perfect. Ten fingers ten toes and as cute as he wanted to be. My pregnancy was uneventful and even his birth. He developed normally and had reached all his milestones. He was crawling and walking on time. Derek was babbling and cooing like all babies and his smile was amazing. I had no concerns or worries. I was falling back into the rhythm of mothering a baby and still mothering two teenage daughters.

Then one day something was different, Derek was not making eye contact anymore and I thought this a different then I started to notice he was not hitting anymore milestone. There were no words just a lot of screaming when he would get frustrated. Remembering how the girls were at his age I kept thinking something is different with him something was “off”. By the age of 18 months there was only one word and that was NO and nothing else so I decided to take him to his pediatrician for an evaluation. She recommended speech therapy and I immediately had him accessed for his speech delay. There he received his first diagnosis “Severe Speech Delay”. We worked through behavioral issues as well as occupational issues to get him to comply with his ever so patient speech therapist. But for me that was not enough he needed more and I needed more. So after talking to a very dear friend of mine she told me about a program called Babies Can’t Wait and after their evaluation they also stated the same thing “Severe Speech Delay” with occupational therapy. And they also worked with Derek and I started to see small improvements but something was still a little off. At the age of three Derek graduated out of the program but was recommended to start school services early to help assist with his speech delay so after several evaluations through the school district they stated they he needed to start school services immediately five days a week full time and receive speech services through the school for a hour a week. That following Monday in April 2013 at the age of 3 Derek’s world changed, he started school and within three weeks the words that were locked away started to pour out. My baby was speaking. He called me mommy he said I love you and I cried. (I am crying now as I relive these moments). The small things that most parents take for granted I treasured every single moment.

He was making great improvements with his speech but something was still not quite right. I kept asking teachers and therapist but no one could or would tell me what they thought. There was still no real strong eye contact, things like going to the barber shop became very challenging for not only Derek but for the barber as well. He would scream from the time he got into the chair. It became so bad that I would cut his hair at home and deal with the screaming there. May 2014 Derek’s Godmother, Tawanna, a special needs teacher for over 10 years came to visit from Texas and as Derek got into the car she interacted with him for a few minutes and said what my gut new “Tanya, Derek has Asperger’s”. Where most people would have thought that this is the worse news they heard I was relived because I wanted to know what to do to help my son. I was never concerned about labels just wanted to give my son the best. Tawanna became my go to person on things to do to work with Derek and it help tremendously.

I also called my former boss Tracy Fogle in Killeen, TX who was opening a school for autistic children and

looked to her for helpful techniques on what I could do to continue to help Derek until I had an official diagnosis.

He went to his first of many evaluations at the local Autism Center where the initial diagnosis is high functioning autism with possible ADHD but we have several appointments before we have an “official diagnosis”

Each day becomes a success; he is excelling in school today Derek takes his social and behavioral skills in his autistic classroom and his 1st grade math, reading, social studies and science in regular main stream classroom. Derek is now reading at almost a third grade level and also being evaluated for being gifted. The behaviors at home are becoming more controlled and today Derek is one of the most loving, compassionate, tendered heart, affectionate and talkative 6 years I know. He still has his quirks but that is what makes him perfect. God knew exactly what he was doing when he created the perfect son for me.

My goal is not only to be an advocate and voice for him for but for every child with Autism.

Along with red BLUE is one of my favorite colors