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Lexi Viola Grace was born on a beautiful summer day on July 5th 2019. She is sister to big brother Lincoln.

Lexi was a normal newborn baby, content on eating and sleeping most days. Life was busy in our house with two under two, time was flying by. Lexi was a smiley, happy baby, chatting up a storm and enjoyed interacting. By the 8 month mark we noticed Lexi loved to stare at lights. She would also stiffen her arms, wiggle her fingers making a funny face when excited. We thought it was a quirk. Lexi was delayed at this point to sitting independently. Lexi was eating and sleeping amazingly well, and by 12 months Lexi was busy crawling and on the move. She navigated stairs quickly getting into all things, especially the plants in the house. Lexi was very much in her own world at this time, generally ignored us and did not seem to care or understand when we spoke to her. She also did not respond to her name.

Lexi was easy going and went with the flow. Making great eye contact, and interactive in thing she was interested in. In months following, we noticed Lexi’s hips seemed overly flexible. This alongside not yet walking on her own prompted us to investigate further. We were referred on to a general Pediatrician and Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon. By 18 months Lexi was seen at Alvin Buckwold Child Development program (ABCD). We went to this first apt hoping to know more of why Lexi was having this trouble walking but left with so many more questions. The General Pediatrician that saw us that day stated Lexi was no doubt, on the spectrum, diagnosing Lexi with a Global Developmental Delay. Referring us on further for a formal assessment with the Team at ABCD. Our world was tossed upside down. How did we miss this? Did we do something wrong? What does this even mean?

Initially we were in shock, but soon started reading everything we could about Autism. Things began to click for us. Lexi started flapping her hands often when upset by this time, Lexi had little to no appropriate words, her “nigh nigh” was a more of a mimicked phrase. she would become upset and scream at everything, especially a change in routine and seemed to be getting more and more sensitive. Lexi didn’t play with toys, she would throw them or inspect things like rocks. Examining things out the side of her eye, her head slightly turned. Often putting things to her mouth and nose as well. Very much exploring things from a sensory approach. Lexi often walked on her tippy toes along furniture. Loved having something in both her hands like make up brushes, pens or straws. Lexi didn't follow instructions or come to us with things she wanted to show us by pointing or leading. Lexi also will run as soon as she is in an open space/outside with no regard for danger.

With very limited communication, Lexi began to get frustrated easily leading to more behavioral issues tantrums and meltdowns, a big change from our calm easy-going baby. We were told from the beginning that the earlier intervention is best. We reached out to everyone, but with endless wait lists we had to advocate for ourselves and find a way to get what Lexi needed as soon as possible. We sought out private therapy and started with our SLP Jenn, who is amazing. We saw progress within a few sessions. We started learning and using sign language right away which has helped Lexi a great deal in communicating. Lexi began walking on her own at 22 months. Lexi was formally assessed In June 2021, by Dr Spagrud a Registered Doctoral Psychologist, with that came a diagnosis of Autism. We knew this leading up, but it was hard to process.

We’ve continued with therapy a few times a month with SLP/OT, and now working with behavioral therapy. Michael and I took a “More than Words "class in the fall, helping us learn as parents, how best to help Lexi. We have started using a talking app to help communicate. Lexi is using more and more words weekly and her play skills are developing with the help of Meghan our OT in conjunction with SLP. Lexi hit a major sleep regression in December 2021, which is common in children with Autism. Lexi will often be up for hrs. throughout the night and has a hard time settling to sleep. This is contributing to her having even more aggressive behavioral issues and irritabilities throughout the day. We are now working with a sleep coach and behavioral therapist to help us get back on track.

After months of struggling with sleep issues and increased behavioral issues we are finally being referred onto a Behavioral Pediatrician at Kinsmen Children's Centre. As well as pediatrician, Dr. Karen Streilein who specializes in Autism to see what we can do from a holistic approach. We are feeling hopeful for Lexi’s future.

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