Okay, so today’s a two for one dealy! It’s no secret that Autism Awareness Month is slipping by and the fact is I’ve still got some very special people to share with you! Meet twin sisters, Lauren & Ashlyn. These crafty ladies are treat-eatin’ and swing-lovin’ sisters who live with hearing disabilities and a diagnosis of autism. I enjoyed a fun-filled hour of hanging out with these gorgeous girls and their dedicated parents for the Stories of Autism project. Bless you, little sweet peas!
Lauren Elise came into this world 2 months early. She is older than her twin sister by four minutes. Lauren failed the newborn hearing test in one ear leaving the hospital, so within her first month we discovered she had moderate to severe hearing loss and would need to wear hearing aids. Lauren worked with several therapists in her early months and it was through those therapists that we had realized there were some developmental delays to be concerned about.
When she was two years old, we took Lauren to see a hearing specialist at the Waisman Center in Madison, WI. It was there that we learned there was something more going on than just her hearing loss. I left that appointment completely devastated, though we still did not have a diagnosis.We followed-up with a visit to a Pediatric Neurologist who did testing and ultimately gave us a diagnosis of Autism. I tried so hard to hold back the tears in his office that day, but I could not. I was almost mad when he offered me the box of tissues, I did not want anyone’s pity. That day in his office, I had no idea what the future held for my girls or our family.
After a good cry, I was done. No more feeling sorry about the situation, it was time to take action. We got involved right away with intensive home therapy where Lauren learned so much. We were blessed with a wonderful set of therapist, most of who we still keep in touch with today even though the girls no longer receive their services.
Today Lauren is a very busy 5-year-old who is in Kindergarten. Lauren continues to have speech and OT therapy 3 nights a week. She speaks very minimally and is easily frustrated by her lack of being able to communicate, resulting in daily crying sessions. She loves to color (especially with brown crayon) and loves the guitar. She loves to be outdoors when possible and is so happy when she is swinging. Her laugh is magical and her smile, which does not come out nearly enough, lights up the room.
The road has not been easy but I am blessed to be her mommy and I continue to pray that her journey will be a successful one where I will be behind her every step of the way.
Kelli, mother of Lauren
Ashlyn Helena was born two months early and is 4 minutes younger than her twin sister, Lauren. Ashlyn passed her newborn hearing screening, so we were not aware of her hearing loss until she was about 6 months old. Call it a mother’s intuition that prompted me to have a hearing test done on her as well. It was confirmed that she had moderate to severe hearing loss and would also need to wear hearing aids.
The story of how we came upon Ashlyn’s Autism diagnosis is the same as Lauren’s. We found out the diagnoses at the same time. Not only one, but two of my children had Autism.
Ashlyn took off with her therapy. She did not let anything stop her and really learned a lot from our wonderful therapists.
Ashlyn is now 5-years-old and in Kindergarten. She is full of spunk and “questions.” She also has speech and OT 3 nights a week and speaks minimally along with signing. She is always busy and such a smiley little girl. She is definitely a mommy’s girl, always by my side when I am home. She loves her “cell phone” and always needs it near her. She loves to clean and snuggle. Her laugh will make even the grumpiest person smile.
I continue to pray for Ashlyn’s journey as well. I am blessed to be her mother and I am one of her biggest fans. I will do whatever I can to help her be successful.
Kelli, mother of Ashlyn
And, our April fundraiser to support the Stories of Autism Picnic is winding down in a week so please consider donating to this event here. Thank you to those friends and families who have already helped us out!