Webster Family | Mesa, AZ | Amy Dangerfield Photography
This awesome Spectrum Inspired Session was documented by Amy Dangerfield Photography. Thank you Amy for volunteering your time and documenting this gorgeous family that has been touched by Autism for us.
Hadley’s mom describes Hadley as happy and energetic with the most beautiful red curly hair and the sweetest smile! Below she shares some of their story with us..
‘Hadley has been a miracle since conception. We struggled with infertility and literally days before I started a more intense fertility treatment, I got a positive pregnancy test. I had a threatened miscarriage at 16 weeks and then was in a car accident at 33 weeks that put me in preterm labor. I was in bed rest until I had her at 38 weeks. I labored for 24 hours and pushed for 2 before we realized the chord was cutting off her oxygen and went in for an emergency c-section. She was an incredibly sweet and happy baby but also so hard at the time. I don’t know how to explain it but things had to be just right. Oh, she was so loved though.
My husband and I both had backgrounds doing habilitation for autistic children and adults so this world was not foreign. When Hadley was about 6/7 months my husband turned to me one day and said “do you think she could have autism”. I brushed it off saying she was too young. It wasn’t until I saw a behavior in her that I saw in one of my past clients that the thought crossed my mind. I chalked it up to sensory issues knowing that could be present without autism.
At her 18 month check up, the doctor had a sheet of simple milestones to check off if she does them. That’s when I realized that she was not cognitively where she should be. I knew she regressed in speech and sign language so I had some concern. Her pediatrician referred us to early intervention therapy and a developmental pediatrician. The developmental pediatrician took months to get into but we started early intervention just a month later. Her therapist has been so incredible helpful.
Hadley formally received a “moderate autism spectrum” diagnoses at 27 months.
We knew it was coming. She was already considered “at risk”. It was no surprise. However when the developmental pediatrician said those words, I was not prepared for those emotions. I suddenly felt this overwhelming stress. To be her advocate, keep up with therapy strategies, constantly cater our entire lives around her and her sensory preferences, and triggers. To apply for this program and that and add more therapies etc. I love my sweet Hadley girl, so much. So much that I want to make sure she has every opportunity and every inch of help she can get to thrive!
We took some time to grieve. We still have moments of grieving. It’s hard to see others able to take their kids on errands or to do something fun together knowing that we can’t because she can’t sit still or understand directions. Not being able to take both kids out alone because I don’t know when Hadley will dart into traffic or decide that she doesn’t want to walk and then I have to carry two kids while trying to juggle everything else. There is grieving, but there is so much celebrating. We celebrate every bite of a new food, or every time she shows that she understood what we were saying. We have to celebrate the victories or we will suffocate under the meltdowns.
Oh but we love our Hadley bear. We are learning to embrace and capitalize on her differences and interests. Our life is so much different than expected. Even different than other neurotypical families. But it’s also more fun ;)