Meet: Alicia Crute
My name is Alicia Lee Crute. My co-parent, John Crute and I share 3 amazing children. We are an extremely close family that loves music, art, museums and playing together. I don’t mean to brag, but we play a mean game of sorry (brushes shoulder off). Our son Ty, is a dynamic character who can explain just about any scientific concept to you in the most dizzying fashion.
We learned recently from the National Autism Association, that autism impacts the normal development of the brain in social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. It often presents itself in children before age three. Boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls. Children with autism struggle with verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.
Broward Mom Collective honors all the moms in our community and wants to create a safe space for them to share their experiences. We are happy to join Alicia whose son was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. We will dive into your journey as you share what it is like to be a parent of a child with autism. Thank you for being an amazing mom and taking the time out to chat with us!
What made you start to suspect that your son Ty, might be on the autism spectrum or have something going on?
I realized that something was different when I would try to wash his hair when he was about 10 months old. When the water touched his face his screams would be terrible. I remember listening to NPR and hearing a segment about autism and wondering if this was what my baby was going through.
How old was Ty when he was diagnosed?
Our son was 8 years old when he was diagnosed. I know what you’re thinking “that’s so late”. We had gone back and forth for years with the doctors, private psychologist, and the school. He had been misdiagnosed with ADHD, which is a common misdiagnosis for children of color. I give credit to a few amazing teachers who encouraged us to have him retested. When we finally got the diagnosis and began occupational therapy the therapist explained that children of color are often diagnosed later than other races.
What was your response to his diagnosis, and how long did it take?
We were relieved to get the diagnosis. It validated what we had been seeing for years. It didn’t alter anything, but it helped us to focus and gave some sense of comfort in knowing. Acceptance of the diagnosis came quickly for us, but as he grows older there are different milestones that his peers are experiencing that our son may not. At times that can be challenging to process, but there are so many beautiful and unique things about our son that we experience that are unique to him and we celebrate that.
What did it feel like as a mother when you couldn’t fully understand his needs and how to help him?
We had this earlier in our son’s life, but we actually went through it again during COVID. Our son became withdrawn and came close to becoming non-verbal. I will say that those months were some of our darkest days. It was concerning to our entire family. We did not know where to turn. We prayed and cried constantly. Family and others would offer “advice” that would oversimplify the situation. A well meaning “all you have to do” or overhearing a “They’re not doing a good job with…” would send me spiraling. It took everything in us to keep moving. But we had to. ALL of our children needed us. People just need to know what not to say to an autism parent, because comments from others would really hurt.
I had to remind myself that these people no matter how close they were don’t understand what our son or our family were experiencing. We had to find strength to keep pushing.
How do you handle being Ty’s advocate?
He has and continues to teach me so much. I feel honored to advocate for such an amazing human being. He truly is our inspiration.
How did you manage parenting your two other children while still providing additional support for your child?
It is extremely important to remember that each person in the family unit is important and dealing with their own issues. We try to make time to spend time all together and time with each child individually. We encourage each of our children to discover their own passion and we do our best to pour into them. We don’t always get it right, but we make sure to let everyone know how loved and special they are.
What is your favorite part about being Ty’s mom?
I get to be a parent to the purest soul that I’ve ever met. He is full of love and curiosity. His spirit is so gentle and anyone who meets him loves him almost instantly. He never speaks ill of people and exhibits such a level of compassion that I am in awe. We just know that he is bound to change the world. He likes to quote a Mahalia Jackson song that says “If I can help somebody, then my living shall not be in vain.” We have all come to live by this verse.
You are your biggest advocate for your child, what did you wish was different about trying to find the right resources, providers etc.?
I wish that the doctor’s offices and insurance companies would help to guide parents to resources from the beginning of the journey, instead of just dropping this bombshell and walking out, leaving parents with millions of questions and utterly lost on how to start piecing everything together. I wish that jobs would guarantee time off for parents to get help and to learn to adjust.
What advice would you give to mothers and fathers who have a child that is on the autism spectrum?
Don’t try to force your child to “fit into societal norms”. Your child is beautiful, unique and gifted in so many ways no matter where they are on the spectrum. Some may discount persons with autism, but I challenge you to remember that you as parents are this child’s champion. We all get weary sometimes and when you do remember that it’s OK to cry and reflect, but never give up on your child or yourself. Take time for yourself, your partner and other children because each or you deserves it. Our journeys are all different. Find people that you can openly communicate with and try to enjoy the good times when they come. Take time for yourself and your relationship. Get a sitter sometimes and don’t feel guilty doing it. If you don’t take care of yourself you can’t take care of your family. Also if your city offers a registry I would seriously consider doing it.
Don’t struggle alone, we wish that we knew of this service provided by As You Are. They are right here in Florida!
Are you wondering if your child might have autism?
Are you wondering if your child might have autism?
As You Are is a virtual clinic providing autism diagnostic evaluations for kids 16 months to 10 years via telehealth appointments. The best part is, appointments with a trained physician are readily available in Florida through video calls.
As You Are is breaking geographic barriers for families sitting on long waitlists, helping diagnose more children early in development. As You Are accepts insurance, including Medicaid and TRICARE East. Learn more and get started today at AsYouAre.com/MomCollective.
As You Are is a virtual clinic providing autism diagnostic evaluations for kids between 16 months and 10 years old, using exclusively telehealth appointments.
As You Are accepts all insurance, including Medicaid and TRICARE East. Learn more and get started today at AsYouAre.com/MomCollective.