About: Harrison (age 12)

Age Range: 6 to 13 years

County: Hamilton

My name is Alicia and my husband Chris have three wonderful children, two boys and one girl. My oldest son Harrison is 12 and has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Currently Harrison is attending a Charter School in East Ridge, TN and is doing great.

Between the ages of 18-24 months, I noticed unusual behaviors with my son. Harrison would sit quietly and play for hours on end. His language skills developed early and he could recite movie scenes, recite story books, and had a fascination with sorting and classifying his toys. He would line his toy cars and trucks up by color and would point out the difference in the wheels. Although he was our first child and we were new to parenting, we felt his behaviors were different than other children we had observed.

My husband and I discussed our concerns with his pediatrician and was told Harrison was fine. Our pediatrician said, "look at his language skills, he speaks in complete sentences and in fact, your son is very bright." We wanted to believe our pediatrician as he was the medical professional, not us. We continued to notice changes in Harrison. He began to have texture issues with food and began to push food away that he previously enjoyed. He would have tantrums that could last for an hour or more. We reached out to our pediatrician repeatedly and inquired about a possible autism spectrum disorder. We were told over and over that Harrison was fine and he did not meet the criteria for autism spectrum disorder.

I remember the day I decided enough was enough and I would push for the correct diagnosis. Harrison was in the first grade and I was waiting to pick him up in the car rider line at his school. This was around the same time he had an unnatural diversion of playing with his hair. I sat silently in the car watching his classmates play and interact with the other children while Harrison sat alone playing with his hair. The other children did not interact with him nor did he try to interact with his classmates. I sat in the car and cried for Harrison. I am the expert in his life and I know him better than anyone, including his pediatrician.

Harrison had developed anger issues around this time as well. The smallest of things could upset him, he also seemed to suffer with anxiety. I decided I would contact a therapist to discuss strategies to combat his anger and anxiety. This was a game changer. Fifteen minutes into our initial visit, the therapist asked, "has anyone ever said he may have autism?" At last, someone was acknowledging our suspicions for all these years. Harrison was officially diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder around the age of seven. We were thankful for the correct diagnosis, as it provided us with additional services and resources to assist Harrison moving forward.

Harrison is doing great now and is a well-adjusted 12-year-old. He has many friends at school and excels academically. We are thankful for our loving, creative, and unique son. He brings joy and laughter to our family. Compared to the early years of Harrison's life, things are much better now that we have gotten a correct diagnosis. Being dismissed by medical professionals in Harrison's early life hindered our ability to get proper treatment, medication, and direction for him. He missed out on invaluable resources simply due to a lack of diagnosis by his pediatrician. I feel that parents should follow their instincts when addressing their children's medical needs. I also feel that a second opinion can be extremely beneficial in diagnosis of something as important as autism spectrum disorder.

Updated on Tuesday, February 6, 2018