HI sierramtngirl, welcome :)
When our DS was a little over a year I was EXACTLY where you are, right down to the conviction that DS was on the spectrum, wondering about having a second child, etc.
I will say that the limbo stage for us lasted until DS was almost 3 and it was very, very difficult for me. I did not deal with it emotionally very well and, looking back, I realize that my worry and fear made everything worse. My advice would be to seek support, local, loving support from other parents who have been there done that. Even in small communities there are usually ASD or special needs support groups and finding people who understand the emotional turmoil of that stage can be a life saver.
For us, when our DS started in an EI preschool, the school turned out to be terrible for him (long story) but for me it was a life saver because every morning I spent some time with other moms going through the exact same fear and uncertainty.
Part of it for me was acknowledging my true feelings. I wanted to scream and cry and mourn for the child I thought we would have. But I didn't let myself and I think not giving myself permission to feel sad and angry just extended that emotional stage. When I finally processed all of those feelings is when I was finally able to move beyond them genuinely rather than painting a fake smile on my face and soldiering on.
My other advice is to seek professional help from highly qualified people who treat you and your little one with gentle respect. I spent too much time listening to callous professionals (a terrible speech therapist, a very young and inexperienced teacher, etc). The right people can also help you make sure you know what is going on with your little one.
To be honest, 14 months old is VERY young and there can be so many things that might cause a little one to look like they might be on the spectrum. I wouldn't accept any kind of diagnosis for at least a year or two. When he was young, our DS had some "reg flags" for ASD and most people we dealt with assumed ASD but we found out later that he has a severe language delay instead.
To be perfectly honest, that you are here asking for support and advice tells me that you will be fine through whatever happens next :)
Ha, you should let things be all about you sometimes :)
Let's see - no we didn't end up having another child. I've heard enough positive stories about siblings of kids with special needs that I am convinced it can actually make things better. But for us we both agreed that we are actually happy being one and done.
Our DS is doing great now! He is still very behind language-wise, but in every other way he is on track. The developmental ped we see believes he will mostly catch up in the next 3 - 5 years. He will always probably have auditory processing difficulties and might have some pronunciation issues, but he should be able to attend typical schools, etc. He is a happy, silly, active little guy :)
My DH did go through the emotions of all this well after I did, mostly because he wasn't doing the day to day work of it all.
Can I ask what makes you feel so sure that your DD is on the spectrum? Does she use gesture at all? How is her eye contact? How does she communicate her needs/wants? Even if she initiates no communication at all, that does not inherently mean ASD. Of course it could mean ASD as well. Most experts I have dealt with (including our dev ped, ST, and a language disorder expert we consult with) have all said it is basically impossible to diagnose a child before they are 2.5 - 3 unless they are fairly severe. So, honestly, I know you feel something is "off" and I would totally trust that, BUT I would also not jump to any conclusions. What I mean to say is, a second opinion at this moment in time might not really tell you anything if you are just looking for a diagnosis. At this point (and in general really) my advice would be to see what seems to help your DD, pay attention to her strengths and weaknesses, and go from there. I say this because, especially at that age, ASD or not, the only real thing you can do is some therapy. When she is closer to 2 or 3 then different kinds of intervention might make sense. But especially if it isn't clear what's up with her, I would get a little therapy, then surround her with lots of fun and love.
There are some great books out there to encourage communication if you want specific things to work on with her at home. "Play to Talk" (MacDonald) and "It Takes Two to Talk" are both great books that have concrete games and things you can play with you little one. They helped me a lot through this stage.
If you do think about more interventions, I would mostly just make sure you keep things child-led and play based and you can't really go wrong :)
2. I didn't talk to them about it. I did, however, talk to specialists about it and eventually a therapist about it.
3. When you catch yourself not being present, bring yourself back to the present. Don't beat yourself up for it (that still isn't being present), just focus on your breath, what you can see right now, this moment. etc. And then when you realize you aren't being present any more, just do it again!
For me, a big part of this path has been making peace with the not knowing. The not knowing never really leaves. Someday, you may have a nice clear diagnosis for your child, and it still won't tell you anything really important, like what she'll be capable of an adult or which school really will work best for her or any of that. This is a path of not knowing, and nearly every answer brings more questions. For a long time.
I like to KNOW things. I like to research and make sense of things and make plans, and this has been really tough for me. I find it easier when she is doing well and is overall happy. I'd like to say I have a sense of peace about it all the time, but that isn't quite true.
We had our children very close together, before we realized that our first child was on the spectrum. I'm thankful that it wasn't a decision I had to make. But my younger daughter is such a blessing both to me and to her big sister. She is one of the best things we ever could have done for our spectrumy kiddo -- she has given her a look into what peers are doing and how they interact, and it something that our older DD couldn't have gotten any other way. At times, I found it overwhelming to be mothering them both, but it has only been a good thing for our DD on the spectrum, (who, BTW, just finished her first semester at community college!)
DS1 was dxed shortly after he turned 3. I knew for years that something was off, he started EI at 18 months of age for delayed speech. It was extremely difficult to get him diagnosed even as early as I did. We traveled 800+ miles x3 to a leading Children's Hospital and spent countless hours and money pushing for evaluations/services. Now that he is 4, getting a dx would be even easier because his ASD is much more obvious.
I did have another child after DS1 but it was completely unplanned and frankly, knowing what I know now, I would not make that decision again. We have interesting circumstances though. We have two older girls, DS1 was already the third child. The two boys are barely two years apart and with DS1's developmental delays, they function like they are barely one year apart. The baby has already surpassed DS1 in many things. We have severe aggression issues with the two boys to the point where all of DS1's therapists are terrified for DS2's safety so I am left shipping one boy off each day somewhere or having to hire help to keep them apart. It is truly that bad and has been this way for two years now. A wider spacing probably would of been an entirely different story.
A big thank you to all of you who responded to my post last summer. I wanted to give a brief update of my DD since we are nearing her 2nd birthday (can't believe that!) & because I know that someone may search and find this thread and wonder what happened to us. DD continues to make wonderful progress everyday and I feel so blessed in so many ways (one of the biggest blessings is MDC for giving me the confidence to know that she is "OK"-even when everything is not ok, and there is nothing wrong with being different!!). She's still such a wonderful little thing, now so full of words--if I had to guess, I'd say we are in the 500-word vocabulary range. She started really taking off with her expressive language around 15-17 months at by 18 months had over 100 words. She is now combining words in sentences 3-6 words long. She can certainly expresses her wants and needs and is now starting to initiate little conversations (this morning: "MMMMM waffles. Waffles good, strawberries so good!" All the while looking at me and smiling). Due to this big jump in her language, she "graduated" from our EI program a few months ago, although I do still have phone access to our ST out of the goodness of her heart. DD is bright and is able to really pick up on a lot of things going on around her which I think will serve her well as she does continue to lag behind her peers a little in social skills (although who knows, from what I've seen, all 2 year olds are pretty weird and socially awkward). She is very social to those that are close to her, family and close neighbors but maybe has a little social anxiety (which she totally got honestly from her mamma-I would describe myself as an extrovert, but definitely anxious in big social situations) around larger groups and it takes her some time to warm up. We have been exposing her to smaller groups at storytime and at a weekly swimming class. She has started to sing along with the classes and knows the names of the kiddos she attends the classes with. She does continue to have some "pink" flags for ASD, but I'm not really focusing on that right now, just trying to build upon her strengths and really work on her weaknesses. She does appear to be a pretty "spirited" little girl, and good for her-which is difficult to remember when she is in the middle of a huge meltdown. But, it has helped me to identify areas of weakness that we need to work on together. I know it's not going to be all sunshine and puppies and rainbows, but I'm feeling so much better about her future and I really feel in my gut that she will be ok - no matter what the outcome is. I'm also 29 weeks pg for baby #2, so I'm hoping that I'm able to enjoy the baby journey a little more next time instead of being so worried like I was last time around. Thank you all again so much for the support!