The Spiral Staircase


Questions filled my mind and I was unable to hear what the doctor was saying. I was sitting in her office listening to all she had to say about my three boys.

The journey started what seemed like ages ago. I had been fighting to get to this very moment, but I wasn’t expecting this.

It all started in 2017 with our youngest son Sawyer.

We finally got a Pediatrician to listen to us and hear our concerns.

We had no idea where the first referral would lead us.

The first specialist was the Speech Pathologist, a few months later it would be the Occupational therapist, followed by the EENT Specialist. Sawyer would receive eight months of speech and occupational therapies before we would finally get to be referred to the Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician. 

July 2018 was a huge month for our family.

We finally met with Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician and were given the biggest shock during that appointment.

This doctor was amazing and extremely patient with the three boys causing chaos in the room.

We were asked if they could test all three of our boys for Autism, not just Sawyer.

To say we were taken back by this question would be an understatement.

Here we were fighting to get these specialists and referrals for testing for Sawyer, and they say all three need it.

How? Why? How did we miss this?

How did their Pediatricians miss this?

Did we do something wrong by not catching this like we did with Sawyer?

So many questions and I felt like I was going to drown in them. 

They were able to set up the testing appointments quickly and the three boys were tested all within 3 weeks.

I get the call to come in and sit down to discuss the results for the three boys.

We were finally at the place we had been working so hard to be at.

My husband was going to be away for work for this appointment, so I walked in bracing myself for the results. 

The doctor brings in three large stacks of files and paperwork. It was a little intimidating to be honest. But she was very thorough and took her time going over each of our boys.

She knew I was still in shock over my older two boys, Stevie and Maycen also being evaluated. But I was ready to hear everything.

I needed too. 

Autism was the diagnosis across the board. All three of our sweet boys.

Each on different ends from each other.

Stevie was given the diagnosis of Mild Autism with ADHD and Severe Anxiety.

Maycen was given the diagnosis of Moderate Autism with ADHD and Severe Anxiety.

I felt a little lost when I heard theirs. Even though I was needing to hear the results, the concept of our older two also being tested was still so fresh and shocking.

She pulled out Sawyer’s diagnosis, Severe Non-Verbal Autism, and went through page by page. I wasn’t upset, but tears filled my eyes.

These tears were for finally having the answers we had been fighting so hard for. 

I called my husband and gave him the news; he’s always been so supportive and understanding. I really am blessed to have him.

I also called our parents and a few close friends that had been so supportive.

I felt like we were finally on a solid path. No more questioning why or where we needing to go next. Or at least for a small moment in time, I thought that. 

Referrals were sent for more therapies and we heard the classic waitlist line and started the waiting all over again.

This time would be different at least. We finally wouldn’t be needing diagnoses, but we were going to have even more questions. 

While waiting for spots to open with therapists that were in network with insurance; I noticed a pattern we had been on.

With every step we have taken over the last few years, with every fight for referrals or to get insurance to approve an appointment, for every moment we had felt like we were never going to see answers; we had been climbing this never ending spiral staircase to advocate for our boys. 

And that is something we will never stop doing. 

We are so thankful for this new journey were on; even though its extremely hard some days and can easily get overwhelming.

This new journey helps us see not just our boys in a new and more beautiful way; but we see the world in a very different light. 

So, if you’re on this journey along side us; know that we will see you on the spiral staircase and we are can do this!

Our children are beyond worth every step.

Written by, Sarah Chapman

My name is Sarah Chapman. I have been married for 11 years to my sweet heart Steven, Mom to three beautiful boys Stevie (9), Maycen (6),and Sawyer (4) who happen to all be on the Autism Spectrum.  My husband and I are so beyond blessed to have our boys and I love that we get to view the world through their eyes every day. You can follow us on our website, Sawyer’s Voice and on Facebook.

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Kate Swenson

Kate Swenson lives in Minnesota with her husband Jamie, and four children, Cooper, Sawyer, Harbor and Wynnie. Kate launched Finding Cooper's Voice from her couch while her now 11-year-old son Cooper was being diagnosed with autism. Back then it was a place to write. Today it is a living, thriving community of people who want to not only advocate for autism, but also make the world a better place for individuals with disabilities and their families. Her first book, Forever Boy, will be released, April 5, 2022.

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