A quick scan through social media can lead you through any number of lists: to-do lists, don’t-do lists, top 10 lists of this that and the other.
I happened upon one this evening from TheAutismSite.com blog which touts the Top 9 Signs that Your Toddler May Have Autism.
1. Lack of Smiling
2. Rare Imitation of Social Cues
3. Delay in Babbling & Cooing
4. Unresponsiveness to Name
5. Poor Eye Contact
6. Infrequently Seeking Attention
7. Lack of Gesturing
8. Repetitive Behaviors
9. Delayed Motor Development
As I read through this list, I found myself shaking my head. You see, our spectrum son wouldn’t have fit into more than one of these categories his first two years of life. He was very much a “normal” kid, there were just some things that were different as compared to his older siblings, not wrong, but different. Because of my husband’s involvement in education as a career, he knew long before I did what we were looking at, but even I knew something was different. Because our son was meeting typical milestones, our doctor suggested a “wait and see” approach to answering the oddities that were quickly making our son “him”; again, nothing wrong, just different.
It finally took a long talk with a trusted cousin whose son had recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome before I could wrap my mind around the possibility that what I considered as a “maybe” could very well be a “reality” and even at that point, I had to call our pediatrician to ask for a referral to Easter Seals so that we could begin the diagnostics process not because we wanted him to be autistic, but because we knew we had to find answers for our son.
It would be another 18 months before we would have the diagnosis and even begin to know who and what to ask in order to better help our son, but I shudder to think if we had given up based on a list such as this simply because, well, he didn’t fit the mold of that list. My point here is that as parents, we know our children, and quite often, we know when we need to move on in seeking help for our children. I think back and realize how easily we could have written off the oddities that just made Ben his own little person, but we knew there was more to it than a different personality. Because we followed our gut instincts, we were able to get him the help he needed so that he could enjoy things like an afternoon at the park or the beach and time spent with peers. These still are not easy things for him to tackle, but because of the efforts of countless people along the way, they are at least a possibility. And the smiles that come with the requests to go back to the beach are simply priceless.