Dec 25, 2020

I’ll never forget the date, August 31 2011, when our only daughter Sophie had her first seizure due to high fever (40 degrees Celsius). Thereafter, she experienced another seizure the following day. That was the start of our special journey with Sophie.

Sophie was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when she was 2 years old. Right after her seizure episodes, we met a number of neuro paediatrician doctors, followed by a neurodevelopmental paediatrician to accurately assess Sophie’s condition.

The doctors initially diagnosed Sophie with attention delay. She underwent a lot of clinical tests to assess her brain condition such as electroencephalogram (EEG) and etc. She also went to an occupational therapist (OT) as the initial program was recommended by her doctor. Thereafter, when she reached 3 years old, Sophie’s neurodevelopmental paediatrician gave the official assessment that Sophie has autism spectrum disorder and she needed to follow a thorough early intervention program.

Initially, we (the family) were devastated since Sophia is our only daughter and everyone in the family loves and adores her. In order to better understand the journey that we will be going through, I enrolled myself in various “Autism and Special Education” seminars. The seminars helped me better understand Sophie’s condition and better support and improve her condition. It was not an easy journey. I resigned from my job in Singapore and became a full-time mother and guardian to Sophie. We converted a room in the house as a playroom cum study room since there were therapists who helped us almost on a daily basis.

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There were many struggles, denials, embarrassments, bullying, and frustrations along the way.  But we stay focused and stick to the plan no matter what. Through the years of these inspiring and humbling experiences of helping Sophie, we are now experiencing “rainbow after the storm”. Sophie is now able to converse and listen properly. She has developed self-help skills which help her to socialise with manners. She is opinionated and has a great memory recall. As a result, she is performing outstanding in her academics (esp. in the fields of science, Christian living, English, History and Math), and has “special talents/ gifts” in the fields of arts (digital, traditional and clay arts).

When we took Sophie for a follow-up with the doctors, they were amazed by Sophie’s progress. Despite being diagnosed with a high functioning autism spectrum, she is presently studying in mainstream Grade 5 and is extremely competitive.

Sophie increased her faith in God since she realized that everything came from GOD, even her life, her talents, gifts and us her parents. Sophie is a God-fearing person.  I guess a big factor for me raising Sophie is really establishing a personal relationship to GOD/Jesus Christ. And it is really “a miracle” for us that Sophie is now very curious about things in life.

When Sophie was 7 years old, she asked me why she is a special child? And I explained to her positively which made her proud to be a special child.  Since then, she introduced herself as a child with autism. Hence, I called Sophie’s journey “Awakening” because she now applies all the “stock knowledge” we had taught her.

Thank you very much to her therapists, doctors, special educators, our families and friends who supported us. I have made a Facebook page account dedicated to Sophie’s milestones and journey to inspire more families dealing with the same condition as ours.

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Maria Fatima S. Gonzales

A mother from Valenzuela City, Philippines