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Why I Walk: For My Three Sons With Diagnosed or Suspected Autism

This guest post is by Hannah Bunch, the full-time mom of three stair-step boys, all with either confirmed or suspected autism. Hannah and her husband Jared have embraced their new found roles, working to become autism advocates; hoping to share their voice as parents and the voices of their children, in pursuit of autism awareness and research. 

You can donate to Hannah's personal walk page here. Why do you walk? Tell us at iwalkfor@gmail.com!

My husband and I have had a crazy 3 years. Our first son Archer was born late August 2011 followed just 12 months, two weeks later by our second son Rhys and then capped off the following November with our third son Keaton. The math works out to be just 27 months between our oldest’s and youngest’s birthdays.
 
Right around our oldest, Archer’s, first birthday we noticed that something was just off. He had some quirky little behaviors and though he wasn’t talking we felt confident at the time that he would talk when he was ready. Within the next couple of months things got worse, not better, and those quirky behaviors became more concerning. Our pediatrician at the time wasn't concerned, but we instinctively knew better. I’d had some exposure to autism and couldn’t help but feel that was the root of Archer’s behaviors. We had Archer assessed for early intervention when he was 14 months old, and though he qualified for services based on his speech delay, the team that assessed him assured us they didn’t see autism; his eye contact was good, he was smiley, etc.
 
Our middle son Rhys gave us concern much earlier. We noted around six months that he never used his left hand, by nine months he wasn’t rolling over, sitting up, or meeting really any of this milestones. We knew the drill and took him in for early intervention assessment, he quickly qualified for services showing significant delays in all areas but we were once again assured that he didn't appear to have autism for many of the same reasons given to us about our oldest son.
 
In March 2014 our oldest appropriately got his autism diagnosis. Rhys, our middle son, is being formally assessed in December 2014, though it’s pretty clear he is even more classically autistic than his brother and will undoubtedly receive an autism diagnosis. Both boys are doing well in ABA programs and are a testament to the power of early intervention.
 
And that brings us to our youngest Keaton. Keaton at 10 months is just like his oldest brother was at that age, the similarities are in fact uncanny. With the first sign of language and social delay we took him in for assessment just last week; he too qualified for services. We were once again (believe it or not) assured he doesn’t appear autistic; and though we remain hopeful that this time they are correct, we are actively pursuing autism intervention.  
 
So, that is why we walk. Not just for our boys but for autism awareness as a whole. If we’d listened to our pediatrician or the assessors who assured us there was no real concern, who knows where our boys would be today.
 

Why do you walk for Autism Speaks? Tell us at iwalkfor@gmail.com and you might be featured on our website! See if there is a walk in your area at walknowforautismspeaks.org!

 

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.