The Joy of Jessa Singing

Jessa is considered Non-verbal. She was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the young age of 3.

One of her first signs of Autism was that she had no words, no language. It was a guessing game.

I used to cry and wish that I could hear my sweet daughter talk, say, I Love You, call me Mom.

I learned to accept that this may never happen, and I learned to LOVE the slight humming that she does to stim and soak up that contagious giggle.

Jessa has ALWAYS loved to listen to music, watch videos, and SING!!

Singing brings Jessa so much JOY!!

Do you ask how she can sing but be considered nonverbal?

Well, that’s because Jessa can’t communicate on-demand, and she will only talk to certain people and usually after being prompted.

Jessa gets shy and sometimes stops when I try to record her, but when she’s in her comfort zone, she puts on a show!!

When Jessa sings, she puts so much emotion, articulates her words, and truly brings out her personality.

I cry happy tears now because I never thought I would hear her talk more or less sing!! Her voice and confidence bring me so much JOY!

Keep SINGING, Jessa; I know you will bring JOY to so many people with your talent and charm!!

#autismgirl #autism #autismo #joyofjessa #jessamonique #thisgirlcan #nonverbal #ASD #autismfamily

Throwback Thursday turns into Thankful Thursday

When Throwback Thursday turns into Thankful Thursday.

This was 4 years ago, before the diagnosis of AUTISM.

Nichole was 15 and Jessa was 3 and we smiled differently.

Jessa loved to dance, dress up, smile for the camera, loud noises, and flashing lights she ALWAYS has.

All of these things are known to be disliked by children on the spectrum.

If I didn’t mention that Jessa has Autism would you have known by looking at the picture and video?

Girls have a harder time getting diagnosed with Autism because they can mask their characteristics.

Jessa got diagnosed with Autism in April of 2017.

As a baby, my instincts told me she was a special one, which she already was since she’s our rainbow baby.

Even though she wasn’t meeting milestones we still had to have multiple tests done to get a diagnosis.

So I’m reminded today that I’m blessed that we did get an early diagnosis compared to other girls.

I’m also very THANKFUL to my oldest daughter Nichole for being such a strong person.

She went through a lot as a teenager having to see her sissy and parents struggle through this new diagnosis that changed our lives.

Sweet Pea, you truly are one of a kind.

Joel, my husband, Jessa’s Daddy.

How did I get so lucky?

I’m truly THANKFUL for all you do for us and especially for Jessa.

May you continue to twirl your Princess on the dance floor, teach her your smooth moves 😉

Thankful for these memories to remind me how JOYful life is.

Nichole and Jessa 2017
Daddy and Daughter Dancing

Mommy Hugs

This is currently my FAVORITE 2 word phrase. 

Especially because it’s coming from my loving (when she wants), sweet (when she wants) but Always cute little Jessa. This is how she asks for cuddles, I know it’s Adorable.

This is her way of communicating her needs, whether it’s emotional or physical or both because of Autism. I’m still trying to figure it out. but for the moment I’m just enjoying the request. 

It honestly brings tears to my eyes when she asks for hugs. 

Jessa is 7, she’s never once voluntarily told me she loves me or anyone for that matter. We just know and feel that she does. So when she asks for Mommy Hugs you’re darn right I jump to command!! 

Jessa is considered Non Verbal, because she will not communicate with you upon asking or demand. 

She listens and understands what you’re saying but you’re in her world and she’s not ready to answer you. 

She can now say what she wants and needs which is a HUGE, because when she couldn’t it was HARD.

I’m sure Joel feels the same way when she asks for Daddy Hugs too. She may or may not say this twice as much or said it first but that’s not what matters here Lol

You can imagine the JOY, LOVE, and HAPPINESS we feel when those 2 words are said by Jessa. There was a time we thought we’d never be able to hear her talk, so we’re Blessed to be able to hear that Little Minnie Mouse Voice of hers. 

So even though Jessa can’t voluntarily say “I Love you Mommy” now, which I know she will one day, I’m just going to enJOY  “Mommy Hugs” 🙂

Who knows how long this will last, gotta get my hugs in before those Teenage years.

Communication is Key

Communication is Key

I’ve always been a strong believer in this, probably because my parents instilled this in me at a young age. If you think about it in order to succeed in your life you need to be able to let others know: how you feel, your ideas, your wants/needs, and emotions through communication. Unfortunately for Jessa and us we had to go through several obstacles to get to where we are now! It hasn’t been easy but WE are doing the best that we can. Our journey to be able to communicate has been a long one but so worth it!

Since Jessa was about 8-10 months she would babble a lot but for the most part was always very quiet and didn’t show much emotion. At first I thought maybe she just has a strong personality like her mom and hides her emotions like her dad. When she turned one there were still no words, she could care less to walk, and she still wasn’t responding to her name. Hmm, that’s definitely a red flag but we were told she’s just “slower” than others.

As time went on we got her ears checked because I thought, maybe she’s deaf? We took her to the local children’s hospital and as I sat there I remember thinking well if she is deaf that’s something we can learn and she’ll just pick up sign language fast. As I looked around I realized that our current situation wasn’t as difficult like other families around us. I then held Jessa tight and prayed for the best.

The hearing tests were passed with flying colors, she definitely could hear just fine. As I heard this great news I was quickly saddened because I realized then there’s something bigger that we’re going to have to overcome. I knew at that moment that we were dealing with something that I wasn’t ready to accept.

The months went by and we got an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis which led us to start with ECI (early childhood intervention). We started speech, occupational and social therapies. Jessa was about 2 1/2 when we finally started these services.

We had therapists come into our home at first, and that wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. Jessa immediately shut down and didn’t cooperate as I would’ve liked. This is when aggression started, at first I didn’t understand why but as years have gone by I totally get it now (well at least that’s what I keep telling myself).

At first we tried signing, and this is when I noticed she was having a really hard time accepting strangers in our home. I assumed she felt like these “strangers” are coming into MY territory and I’m going to protect my space. Jessa then started biting, and hitting the therapists as well causing some SIB (self injury behaviors). She also started eloping from tasks or demands she wasn’t wanting to do.

We then tried PECS (picture exchange communication system) but that lasted shortly since Jessa tore up the cards into pieces before even getting started on instructions. My heart was broken, how was she ever going to be able to communicate with us?

Within a couple of months we switched to a therapy center where she was one on one with a therapist for 30 – 45 minutes once a week. She did better with these sessions but with insurance only approving 2 days a week for 30 minutes I just felt it wasn’t enough. Then I had to remind myself she’s only a few months short of 3.

Jessa started pulling us to get our attention to help her with getting food out of the pantry or a drink out of the refrigerator. If you didn’t move on her command she let you know that she was upset and wasn’t happy about you not jumping up to her command. There’d be times when she would pull us and we wouldn’t move she would say, “This is heavy” I don’t know if I got up quickly after that because I was offended or at the fact that she could put those two things in context. Once she got us to her desired location she would then point in the general direction of what she needed/wanted.

We as parents were always playing a guessing game of what it could be that she requested. There were definitely a lot of upsets and emotional hard ridden days. I remember crying and thinking I’m never going to be able to understand what my daughter needs. One thing I do remember being grateful for was that Jessa still showed us love in her own way. She would always give us hugs, kisses and position us to where we were “forced” to hug her (definitely not forced but for sure only when Jessa said so.)

Luckily I have a lot of faith in Jessa and ourselves as parents that I knew we wouldn’t give up on finding a way to help Jessa communicate.

To be continued…