Meet Cody, Colton, and Madelyn
Cody, 4, Colton, 4, and Madelyn, 9
My name is Nazik. My husband, Cody, and I have five children ranging in age from 4 to 18, including triplet boys, Cody, Colton and Jaxon. Cody and Colton, age 4, are autistic and so is our daughter, Madelyn, age 9. Our 18-year-old Andrew and the third of the triplets, Jaxon, are not on the spectrum.
When I found out Madelyn had autism, it did not come as a surprise. I already had a feeling that was going to be the diagnosis. I knew I had a lot to learn, and I can’t begin to tell you the amount of research I did when we got the official word. I wasn’t scared or intimidated - I just wanted more knowledge. It was a feeling of “okay, let’s do this.” When my sons were diagnosed, I knew they would have more challenges. I still felt like I could handle it, but I wasn’t sure how since I knew kids on the spectrum need a lot of time and energy devoted to them.
Madelyn was 5 years old when she was diagnosed. We had her tested when we noticed her having difficulties following simple tasks in school. I also noticed she was a quiet child unless she was repeating phrases from her favorite cartoon, Mickey Mouse. Now I know that’s referred to as “scripting,” which can be seen in children with ASD.
As far as the boys, I suspected they could be on the spectrum when they were very young. I noticed Cody and Colton, two of the triplets, were always bouncing in their cribs 24/7. I kept an eye out for repetitive behaviors as well. When there was a speech delay and we saw that Jaxon, the third of the trio, was playing and engaging more than the other two, I set appointments for them to be tested. They were eventually diagnosed at age 2.
Since being diagnosed, Madelyn has received applied behavior analysis (ABA), occupational therapy (OT) and speech therapies. The boys receive ABA and OT - they are not ready for speech therapy just yet.
Early intervention is key when you have the proper guidance from people who care. The boys have had to change providers a couple of times because we found their services did not work for our boys for one reason or another. We have since ended up with great behavioral therapists that have helped the boys tremendously.
Learn more about Madelyn, Cody and Colton in this Q&A with their mom:
What advice would you give to other parents of children who were recently diagnosed with autism?
Don’t panic and do your research. Depending on the circumstances and level of support needed, it is okay and appropriate to grieve the life you thought your child would have compared to the one he/she may actually be living. I had to realize my kids would not play team sports, may never talk and may never get married, and that makes me sad. But there are so many other wonderful things they will do that will make you smile and make you so proud.
How have you learned to advocate for your children since their diagnosis?
Advocating is a big deal since you are your child’s voice and know what’s best for them. Some therapists may not have the right background or temperament for you or your child. It is okay to speak up. Oftentimes, I questioned myself because I didn’t want to come off as too aggressive or pushy. I know services are limited and sadly, there can be a shortage of qualified therapists and workers in the autism field. Don't ever be satisfied with services that are just "good enough.” Speak up and don’t settle. You will see the difference in your child when you find the right service provider for them and your family.
What makes you most proud of your children?
My children are amazing little sponges that get joy out of the smallest thing. No grand gesture is needed for my kids to be happy and excited. They don’t need Disneyland or a vacation to be happy. All they need is an open field of grass and lots of tickles. They work hard every day and although they have bad days, they are always moving forward and will try the task again tomorrow.
What are five words that best describe Madelyn, Cody and Colton?
Madelyn: Sweet. Beautiful. Funny. Caring. Goofy.
Cody: Happy. Simple. Hungry. Amazing. Calm.
Colton: Fiery. Determined. Hyper. Picky. Knows what he wants.