The Copans Family| Massachusetts| Sarah Driscoll Photography
Andrew, age 5 "sweet, curious, energetic."
Imagery by Sarah Driscoll Photography
Words by Kate, Andrew's sweet Mommy,
"Our story is pretty simple and average. Andrew is my first child. From the moment he was born -- even before he was born actually, I knew Andrew would be feisty. He could kick himself out of every swaddle as a newborn and was always curious, moving around and trying to see what was going on. He was a difficult infant, and cried a lot and had difficulty sleeping. He was always social and interested in people though, so autism wasn't on my radar until his second birthday. He still didn't have many words and when he did "talk" it sounded like he was trying to speak a different language. It just sounded like gibberish. We would get super frustrated at his inability to communicate and have tantrums and episodes of self injurious behavior.
At age 2, we were referred to our county's Early Intervention services. He received speech and OT services through EI and we began the process of getting him evaluated for ASD. This was a very scary time for us, as I think it is for every parent. You just don't know what to expect and what the future will hold. You grieve the loss of the expectations you had for your child. You wonder what his life will be like. His first time getting evaluated, Andrew didn't actually meet all the criteria for a diagnosis; this was age 2.5. Andrew is very smart and has a lot of strengths, and in some environments, it's not always clear what his challenges are. At first, we were relieved he didn't have autism. But still, I knew that something wasn't quite right. I remember later that week very clearly overhearing a conversation between a child who looked about Andrew's age and her mom in the checkout at the grocery store. The child was "negotiating" with her mom for a pack of gum. The interaction and the back and forth was so natural between the mom and the little girl and it was something that just wasn't there in Andrew and my interactions. Deep down, I knew that he had it. We went back in for a follow up and I again mentioned my concerns to his developmental pediatrician. She agreed to observe him in his daycare and to see how he interacted with the other children. He then met the criteria for an autism diagnosis and was officially diagnosed at age 3.
Andrew has responded really well to therapy. He thrives on the structure of school. He is so smart and curious, and was able to read at age 3. He loves to learn about animals, and trains. He got really into the US Presidential election and could name all of the primary candidates during the primary season. He even named his teddy bear Bernie Sanders! He struggles socially. Oftentimes, he just doesn't know what to say to other kids or how to play with them, but with play therapy and social skills groups, he is showing improvement in this area.
Being Andrew's mom has, without a doubt, been the most challenging but rewarding element of my life. I have had days where I've been brought to the limits of what I ever thought I would be capable of handling, but other days where my heart just swells with pride at how far he's come and how hard he's worked. He has brought such overwhelming pride and joy to us. The way he looks at the world and goes about solving a problem is so different than what I would do, but it's not wrong! It's just different. He just looks at the world and thinks differently than the rest of us. I know he has so much to offer and so many strengths to celebrate. Without a doubt, Andrew has made me a better person - more kind, more patient, more sensitive, and more empathic. I am so proud to be his mom.
I hope this is what you are looking for! I can certainly provide more information if it's not. Thank you for reading and for considering us for this special opportunity. What a wonderful thing this is that you do."