Autism Awareness Series

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Good Morning, over the next few weeks I will be having a guest blogger who so happens to be my lovely wife educate us on the discussion of Autism & just how much it has affected us on a personal level. Please feel free to post any questions in the comments or email her directly if you have any questions.

Autism Awareness by Maria Davis-Pierre, LMHC

April is Autism Awareness Month. This month means a lot to our family because our daughter was diagnosed 2 years ago. So for the month of April I will be sharing a little of our autism story every week.

Autism Spectrum Disorder consists of these major signs/symptoms:
·      Delayed or no speech
·      Repetitive or unusual behaviors
·      Lack of social skills
·      Trouble controlling emotions
·      Sensory sensitivity

Our daughter began babbling and saying dada at your typical age of 6 months and at 7 months she was saying mama, but as time passed it was like she had forgotten how to say either of those words. I would try to get her to repeat them after I would say it but it was like she just couldn’t. As time progressed she was babbling very little and had very few words she was actually saying. It was because of these concerns that I took her in to be tested.

After the test I was told our child had scored below average on most categories and that there was a concern she was on the autism spectrum. I can say that this wasn’t a complete shock to me as a therapist however it was a blow all the same. After leaving the facility I began to try and make sense of this information, asking myself did I do something wrong during pregnancy?, did I do too much of or not enough of something? All were valid thoughts but really had nothing to do with why a child is diagnosed with Autism. I thought back to what I had envisioned for our daughter and wondering if those dreams could still be a reality. Thinking about how I wanted to play certain games with my child, or dress up and have tea parties, or watch Disney movies all of which she had no interest in. In expressing my feelings to my husband he reassured me that I was going to have to change my thought process and meet my child where she was, and that I was going to have to stop comparing her to kids that are not on the spectrum as it wasn’t good for her or me. And (as difficult as it is for me to say this) he was right. I started having more realistic goals for where she was at currently and started getting her in the necessary therapy. 

When she turned 3 she was able to enter Pre-K. We were able to get her in our top school of choice and in August of this past year she started the Palm Beach School for Autism. The child that started school in August is completely different from the child that is about to end this school year. She has made so much progress from now being able to communicate her needs to us, to playing and interacting with other kids and her younger siblings. She is constantly meeting goals we set for her so we are constantly adding new ones. The crazy thing is that she has taught us more that we have taught her. She has taught us to think differently, to not believe that we have certain expectations to live up too, and to slow down and cherish these moments. I saw a shirt the other day with something to the effect of “Autism is a journey I never planned for but I sure do love my tour guide”. And I think that sums up where we are right now enjoying the journey with our child and seeing it through her lens.

Maria Davis-Pierre LMHC
  Day By Day Therapy


Guest Speaking Recap - Lunch & Learn

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Had another amazing weekend highlighted by an event that I had personally been looking forward to for a few months. As you may or may not know I am a proud member of the Urban League of Broward County Young Professionals Network, a non profit organization of like minded professionals in south florida who have their hands in everything from community service, financial literacy & political action. This past weekend we hosted a "Lunch & Learn: Your Health Is Your Wealth" event at Nova Southeastern  University where I had the privilege of sitting on an amazing panel to discuss issues within the African American Community. Our host/moderator Kayla Comrie, who also serves as the chair for the Social & Cultural committee was the brain child for the whole event & I couldn't have been more happier to be apart of it. I definitely look forward to continuing this event for years to come.

Our guest panelist included (from left to right) : 

*SN How lucky am I to be around that many beautiful professional women?*


Guest Speaking Recap - Sterling Village

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I again had the wonderful opportunity to speak to the residents at Sterling Village of Boynton Beach last night. Last year I lectured on the topic "The Doctor & Patient Relationship", this year I decided to talk about a topic near & dear to me which was Hypertension. After losing my father to complications from long standing hypertension its a disease that I'm very aggressive with in trying to obtain control for my patients. As an Internist, chronic disease management is almost second nature so I pride myself in being to start giving these talks in the local community. The residents at Sterling Village were wonderful and they always make it easy for me as a still novice guest lecturer. I look forward to speaking with them for years to come.


Guest Speaking Recap

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I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with the organization Pathways to Prosperity of Boynton Beach yesterday about hypertension. It's a great nonprofit organization out of Boynton Beach which focuses on community empowerment for adults & children in the Haitian community.  Due to some communication issues[on our end] I wasn't able to prepare a proper  presentation but I do have plans to return to give them a proper education on just what is hypertension in the community.

Please feel free to check them out they are always looking for more education/financial support for the Haitian community.

Facebook Page 
Official Website


When I stopped being hypocritical

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As I left residency and began to see patients in the office I realized fairly quickly that the majority of my patients were either going to be hypertensive, diabetic, hyperlipidemic(high cholesterol), overweight or just a combination of the above. Here I am with years of training fully equipped to handle all of these issues but with one lingering elephant in the room. I myself was overweight, so here I was serving as my patient's "expert" at all things related to health but overweight my damn self. I think one of the things I learned through this process of becoming a physician is that we [physicians] tend to do a lot of the things we tell our patients not to with the greatest of ease. Some drink/smoke/eat excessively, many of us don't sleep as much as we recommend, our nutritional habits and getting us to follow up on our health needs is usually like pulling teeth. Of course we know these are all excuses that we wouldn't[don't] accept from our patients but we go about our day like were immune to the same issues that we are trying to prevent for our patients.

So you could have had asked any of my patients during my first few months out, I had no problem looking patients straight in the face telling them to lose weight, eat better & exercise. When I look back it's almost hilarious that none of my patient's didn't just laugh in my face & tell me to do the same. I realized very quickly that If I wanted my patients to lose weight & take their health seriously that I would have to be their example to turn to.  Like many of us I love food, growing up with my Haitian parents, a [big]bowl of rice was always a staple part of the meal. I had to first learn to love that idea that rice would no longer be a part of my daily routine. After some needed dietary changes my next battle was the gym, which can be a daunting place to be in if you don't have a clue what you're doing. Thankfully by chance someone I follow on twitter(Mr1738) mentioned bodybuilding.com as a goto website for free exercise routines. The best part for me was something that I could pass on to my patients because I knew that cost is a huge barrier for them.

I will admit that it's still something that I battle with on a daily basis because again food is great but there is no better feeling than seeing my patients come back tell me that I helped motivate them to turn their life around. As I embark on this journey I just hope to continue to motivate my patient's and really anyone with getting ready to start on this path to health living. I am just glad that I was able to leave my hypocritical ways before anyone called me out on it.
Down about 43 lbs thus far. 
Pic on the left from my last year of residency.
Pic on the right a few months ago.