Since God gave us Gianluca (pronounced John-Lukka), he has been such a treasure – a squirmy, smiley, and strong ninja-kid (Jenn’s nickname for him). He loves climbing everything. He loves being tickled and thrown. He enjoys lounging with mom, dad and his little brother, Gabriel, to watch Veggie Tales or Dora or Frozen.
He’s really awesome. And along with observing all of the above in Gianluca, Jenn and I have also seen some significant developmental delays. He’s really quiet, and rather anti-social. He usually doesn’t respond to his name or other questions. At 2-years-old (back in late 2013), we sought out Early Intervention, which was excellent for his growth. After 6 months, he actually began mimicking words and understanding some directions. He even started labeling us “mommy” and “daddy” at 2 ½. Four times a week, therapists would come and teach him how to speak or do other practical life skills.
In September of 2014, Gianluca started pre-school! We were so excited for him! Our speech therapist said that pre-k is always a motivator for kids with speech delays. But one week into class, it was obvious that Gianluca’s speech and social deficits were not merely delays that he would eventually catch up on, but they were more serious.
Jenn and I had to face what we had carefully placed on the back burner: Gianluca’s delays were disabilities that put him on the autism spectrum. We brought him to a developmental pediatrician for the second time on October 14, 2014, where he was officially diagnosed.
Autism is a brain/social disorder, where people do not mature normally in cognitive or social development. Because it is a “spectrum” disorder, this means different things per person. For Gianluca, it means he’s got a limited vocabulary, does not make much quality eye contact, is anti-social (or does not know how to be social and is mostly in his own world) and he has echolalia, where he repeats words, phrases, songs, etc. without truly understanding their meaning. He’s also VERY active. He climbs and takes risks, putting himself in danger. He’s very strong because of it. And he still chews random objects, due to a need for sensory stimulation.
All this has been very hard to process, even though it was not a surprise to us. Will Gianluca have a best friend? Will he be bullied? What if he runs away and isn’t able to ask for help? How will his future be? These questions and more are weighing down our soul right now, honestly. On a positive note, we’ve found some great help in our local school system, church, family and community. The key to helping him is intense, early therapy, and we want to get him all the help we can!
Would you pray for us? Some things we’re praying about are:
-that Gianluca would rapidly mature, whether by miraculous healing or over time
-that we would endure all of the evaluations, doctors visits, therapies and at-home treatment with perseverance
-that we’ll not neglect our son Gabriel in helping Gianluca
-that Jenn and I would retain a strong marriage
-that we would know God is good and upholding us even when we’re weak.
Thank you! We covet your prayers.