Meet Emmalyn, a spunky sweetheart who loves pink fairy princess tutus and has incredibly kind spirit. We just love EVERYTHING about this session! Beautiful imagery by the amazing Danielle MacInnes. Inspirational words by Emmalyn's sweet Mama.
"When Emmalyn was 18 months old and barely speaking, our doctor put us in touch with the Early Intervention Services in our state. We had a wonderful therapist who visited once a week, and about 6-8 months in with not a lot of progress in the speech area they began picking up on other signs that were cause for further concern. Frightened at the thought that our beautiful baby girl may have a developmental disability, we took her to the pediatric neurologist who confirmed our suspicions. Four months after the birth of our second child, Emmalyn was diagnosed with Autism and our lives changed forever.
Fear, anger, frustration, concern, cheated are only a few of the emotions that Ryan and I felt as we tried to feel our way around how to cope with this diagnosis and understand what it meant for our daughter and for our family. We scoured the internet, read countless books, fearfully read study after study on living with autism, causes of autism, warning signs of autism… you name it, we read it. In a panic over getting her the services she needed, we researched states that had dedicated programs and schools for children like her and even had our house on the market hoping to move to where we thought she'd get the best treatment. In that time, she started the preschool program in our town and we started to see some changes in her. She was making better eye contact, talking a little more, becoming more engaged. Then after being on endless waiting lists, we were able to get her speech and OT therapy going. Found an ABA program that seemed to fit her needs. Fortunately, my husband quit his job when we had our second child, which afforded us the flexibility we needed to accommodate her every growing therapy schedule. We started to panic a little less, took the house off the market and stayed put. We'd see how this played out, she seemed happier, less frustrated and was really making strides. We started to care less about how she got Autism, or why she has it, and began to focus more on helping her cope with it and how we'd live with it as a family.
Then a shift… by the end of her first year of Pre-K, she was talking in sentences, engaging with her peers, engaging with us. She could communicate, and you could see the relief in her face. We started to see her personality shine through. Spunky, thoughtful, loving, kind, free spirited, athletic, talented, intelligent… I could go on and on. It was like watching a flower bloom.
Where we were once afraid that the timing of adding to our family would interfere with Emmalyns needs, we now started to see that having a sibling was something she really connected with. Perhaps it is because developmentally she is about a year behind her peers, but she is so incredibly close with her younger sister, it brings tears to our eyes watching them play and interact. And now, with her baby brother, she's quite possibly the best big sister ever.
Autism has changed our lives forever, that is a fact. But what we once saw as an unsurmountable mountain has become a rolling hill. As a family, we have our good days and bad days. We struggle and we rejoice. It's an ebb and flow on a near daily basis. We celebrate the little things that other families take for granted. At the playground when Emmalyn walks up to another child and engages them in play- we cry. But they are happy tears, because we know she is growing and becoming more comfortable in her own skin by the minute. She truly is such a beautiful child, with one of the kindest souls I've ever known. We consider ourselves blessed to be her parents and are humbled by the generosity of programs like this that helps bring small rays of happiness into our now very hectic lives."