Bryson and her family enrolled in our infant study in July 2021, after hearing about the opportunity through her children’s pediatrician. At the time, Bryson’s 2-year-old daughter, Bryanna, showed early signs of autism that had not been diagnosed. Bryson also had a newborn and was interested in hearing about the different resources the ESDI Lab could offer for her family.
Bryson noticed that something was “different” about Bryanna from the start. She observed certain characteristics and behaviors that seemed similar to Bryanna’s older half-brother who was diagnosed with autism. Despite being told that Bryanna was “fine” and that she would “snap out of it,” Bryson knew something else was going on. Like many parents, Bryson was hesitant at first to pursue an autism evaluation. She was concerned for Bryanna but was worried about what an autism diagnosis might mean for her. She soon realized, however, that autism “doesn’t have to be debilitating,” especially when early intervention is in place. She explained, “as a parent, if you notice certain signs and see what’s going on you’ve got to just embrace it and see what you can do to help.”
Soon after, Bryson came to us with questions about Bryanna’s behaviors and expressed interest in the research opportunity for Bryanna’s newborn brother, Brandon.
The ESDI Lab started by providing a free comprehensive autism evaluation for Bryanna within 2 weeks of the referral, which indicated that Bryanna did meet criteria for autism spectrum disorder. Bryson felt “relieved” after receiving this diagnosis because it validated her own observations. The diagnosis also unlocked further services for Bryanna and allowed her to receive more help. Now, Bryson doesn’t see the autism diagnosis as something to be afraid of. She stated, “it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with your child… honestly I think my child is pretty cool… Bryanna is the most interesting person in the world… the diagnosis just means to go ahead and get the help that you need."
Nicely said, Bryson! We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Bryanna IS a really cool kid!
Following the assessment, the team also enrolled baby Brandon into the infant study. Over the last 6 months, Dr. Bradshaw and the research coordinators have followed Brandon’s development while providing feedback along the way. About 20% of infants with an older sibling with autism also develop autism themselves. Therefore, it is important to closely monitor their development and make referrals to early intervention as needed. Since starting the study, Bryson expressed becoming more mindful of Brandon’s developmental needs and what to be looking out for.
Bryson stated how valuable this study is for parents, as it provides valuable information about their child’s development, even if they don’t necessarily have concerns about autism. She explained, “I feel like there is a definite reason just to do the study because you never know. It's one of those things where it's better to know earlier if there are any developmental aspects… or just anything that may be neurodivergent… it’s definitely something you want to get ahold of sooner rather than later because then you know where to go with things…”
Bryson expressed a deep appreciation for this study and the resources it provided her, stating, “I don't know where Bryanna would be right now and I don't know where I would be right now if we did not find you guys.”
Thank YOU, Bryson, for your continued participation in our study. We appreciate all you do to support this research and the community!