I did a lot of “googling” and came across Autism. Autism seemed like a very bad word to me and thought there was NO WAY that was what was happening to “my baby.” But each time I would search a personality trait “that word” popped up. While searching I discovered online sources like Autism United and Autism Speaks that were full of information and “checklists”. I started to get past my denial and want to know all the facts. What is autism? What are some common signs of autism?These resources were so helpful to me. I have had absolutely no experience with Autism. The first thing that comes to mind is the movie Rainman. I know that is sad but true.
I discovered that my little boy has many but not ALL the of the characteristics. And then as I continued to search I realized Autism covers a HUGE range of levels! Not all autistic kids are the same. Some function very well while others need constant attention and care.
I decided to make the dreaded phone call to the pediatrician. The doctors office was wonderful and let me express my concerns over the phone. The doctor was concerned and asked that we come in for an evaluation. My first thought was “OH NO!” I had the thoughts that most moms probably have about their child in this situation. “Did I did something wrong?” “If the doctor is worried then it must be bad.” They could not see us for 2 weeks so I took that time to record his behaviors. Every time I saw something or he did something that was out of control I wrote it down. I watched for patterns and triggers.
These are the main issues I saw over and over:
- Social isolation
- Controlling about where things go: He would watch children as they took items and when they were done he would take it and put it back.
- Obsessed with lining things up.
- Nothing can be out of place.
- Problems with eye contact
- Shuts down when a new environment
- Flips out with change in routine (Even as simple as me driving instead of dad)
- Photographic memory: Memorizes routes, placement, etc.
- Extremely anxious about new people or places
- Obsesses over parts of things like the wheels of toys
- Extremely sensitive hearing
- Moods change in an instant
- VERY obsessed with things going back in the proper place!
- Slow to warm up to people even the people we sees all the time (including family)
I saw those things the most. I am so glad my sister in law suggested the journal because I could see patterns and triggers more clearly and learn to avoid them. This was also very helpful for talking to the doctor!
So we saw the doctor for the evaluation. She did interactive tests with him. Some of the things included: pointing to things and seeing if he followed, seeing if he would echo, trying to have a conversation, etc. In the end he did fall on the autism spectrum but he was not on the severe end. In fact she said he would be considered “High Functioning.” She also said many parents of high functioning autistic kids just think their child is extremely shy, extremely anxious and very smart. This is a very hard thing to diagnosis. So she is sending us on to the Psychologist for more behavioral testing. That doctor will also be able to help ME deal with these situations.
So now what? Well the way I see it, I still have the same precious little boy. Nothing has changed except he has a label. I don’t know why these medical labels scare us so much! People will go for years with something but when it is diagnoised it is like it is worse. I want to still treat my child the same. I want him to have the same wonderful life we have visioned for him. I just have to learn to understand him. I need to understand why he does what he does and why he feels what he does. I hope that me understanding him better will mean a happier life for him.
I have faith! I know God has a plan in all of this. Still, it is hard. I will share as much of this journey with you as I can. I would LOVE to hear from you if you know someone with autism. If you have lived through it and have advice, thoughts, experiences to share please do so! I would love to learn from you. We draw strength from one another. Thank you in advance for your support!
- Autism United
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders
- What are some common signs of autism?
- Autism Speaks has a 100 Day Kit for families who have a child recently diagnosed with autism.