Autism Awareness: My Riplee Girl Story

My oldest daughter was born on January 20th, 2006. Piercing green eyes, just like mom, and soft big lips just like her daddy’s. Her name was Riplee. She came into the world with no complications, a healthy and typically developing baby girl, met all her newborn mile stones, sitting at 6 months, crawling around 8 months and walking just around 13 months. She even began to say a few words like “ball,” “mama,” and “no.” I never suspected what was to transpire over the next 7 years, what was going to come like a thief in the night and steal my sweet daughter away; Autism.

Just around the time when Riplee reached 18 months I began to notice Riplee acting “different.” She wouldn’t let any other kids come near her, or in her “bubble” of security, in fact if a kid got even remotely close to her, she would come running to me nearly in tears. Riplee began drawing further and further away from us, she would spend play time in her own little world, mindlessly flipping through the pages of a book and staring out the window, she stopped talking, communicating, and began waking up at all hours of the night. These were just a few of the signs that I can remember now, that provoked me to seek help and see what was happening to my baby girl.

I contacted a local early childhood intervention program. They sent two people to our house to observe Riplee over a couple of hours in her own environment. After spending a good deal of time with her, they looked at me and confirmed what I thought I would hear, that I should take her to a professional to have her observed specifically for Autism. Thus began our long journey down a road I never really saw an end to.

The first professional doctor we saw gave us no help at all. He took one look at her and said, “I dont know what all the crazy hype is over Autism, your child is just developing at her own pace, give it another year or so, she’ll catch up.” Onto the second opinion! The next doctor we saw understood the disorder more, had first hand experience with it and got us on a path that I am so grateful for. She wrote us a referral to be evaluated by the Seattle Children’s Autism center, we were placed on a waiting list, and then seen just after Riplee turned 3 by a professional and certified psychiatrist, and then we finally got it-the official diagnosis, PDD-NOS, Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

to seek help and see what was happening to my baby girl.

I contacted a local early childhood intervention program. They sent two people to our house to observe Riplee over a couple of hours in her own environment. After spending a good deal of time with her, they looked at me and confirmed what I thought I would hear, that I should take her to a professional to have her observed specifically for Autism. Thus began our long journey down a road I never really saw an end to.

The first professional doctor we saw gave us no help at all. He took one look at her and said, “I dont know what all the crazy hype is over Autism, your child is just developing at her own pace, give it another year or so, she’ll catch up.” Onto the second opinion! The next doctor we saw understood the disorder more, had first hand experience with it and got us on a path that I am so grateful for. She wrote us a referral to be evaluated by the Seattle Children’s Autism center, we were placed on a waiting list, and then seen just after Riplee turned 3 by a professional and certified psychiatrist, and then we finally got it-the official diagnosis, PDD-NOS, Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

After we had her diagnosis we were put in touch with speech therapists, Early Childhood Development Preschool’s through our local school district and an ABA therapist,(Applied Behavior Analysis). I poured every minute, every penny that I made, my heart, soul and mind into getting Riplee the best help I could. I removed Gluten and Casein(all dairy) from her diet, and researched everything I could about Autism, learning about the disorder that seemed to slowly take my daughter away-but I vowed to get her back, and I did.

Just 4 years after we received the diagnosis Riplee was able to transition into her typically 1st grade class without her IEP (Individual Education Program) from which she graduated from after her kindergarten year. I have always been her biggest advocate and I always will continue to be.

Because we got the diagnosis early, got the appropriate help and advocated for Riplee, we were able to help our daughter, and now you might just take a look at her and never know she was once so captive by Autism, a disorder that now effects every 1 in 68 Children across the U.S. http://www.autism.com This is just a fraction of my story of my Riplee girl, if you suspect your child has autism or you have questions, feel free to contact me. I now work for the Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy and helping others is what we do.

Contact info: Jess Silvernail, Mother of Riplee, 8, Sia, 1 and another baby girl on the way. Executive Assistant at WAAA, info@washingtonautismadvocacy.org

Thank you.

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