We’ve been dealing with a lot around here lately. Most things, I’m sure, are not unlike the things many young families struggle with and work through-job and financial uncertainty, adjusting to a new baby, etc. However, we have an additional trial that, while not a surprise, has become something we can no longer be non-chalant about.
Last week Charlie’s Pediatrician put him on a new diet. This is a diet for kids who are showing early signs of Autism.
We have had suspicions about Charlie being a little bit more intense and “different” than other children ever since the day he emerged from the womb crying his head off. By the way, he’s only gotten louder every day ever since. He’s as loud as a freight train driving past a wood-chipper that’s next to a jackhammer being hammered by my sister telling a story (hint: she’s LOUD). And that’s when he’s “whispering”. I know this to be true now more than ever, because his new baby brother is as loud as a mouse sleeping with a pacifier in comparison. If there was any doubt about Charlie’s loudness, its all gone now.
Anyway, I digress.
From very early on I started reading books trying to figure out how to best parent Charlie Boy. It started with The Fussy Baby Book, then it was The Highly Sensitive Child, then Raising Your Out-of-Sync Child. All of these helped me to see that there were other “high needs” babies out there, so I guess I wasn’t alone. The only problem was that I always finished the book thinking “but Charlie is even more Fussy, Highly Sensitive and Out-of-Sync than even these books describe!”. Most of their techniques and suggestions just did not work with our Boy (but they sure helped a heck of a lot more than any parenting advise we got from others…those people have normal babies, not supernatural-I-can-sense-when-you-are-leaving-the-room-
even-though-it-seems-like-i’m-sound-asleep baby). These people never believed us when we’d try to explain that Charlie Was Different and a more difficult breed than other kids. It was frustrating to always be told that we were just over-reacting, all kids go through these kinds of phases, he’ll grow out of it and start sleeping, talking, whatever.
While it was hard to always feel that our parenting was being invalidated by these comments, it was still a bit comforting that- maybe its true, we are paranoid, and the Boy is normal. After all, he is our first born, we didn’t have any other children of our own to compare him to.
Hearing the doctor actually validate and confirm our suspicions that Charlie is showing signs of having a disorder somewhere on the Autistic Spectrum was a relief but also extremely FINAL. We aren’t paranoid, he won’t grow out of it.
I’ve been mourning this acceptance for the last week.
Here’s the good news: Charlie is definitely not a full-blown Autistic child. He makes eye contact, can interact socially if he wants (usually very shy when he first meets people) and is incredibly loving and affectionate to us and our immediate family whom he knows quite well. He does have many other behaviors that are classically autistic, the main one being speech delay. We have him set to be evaluated by a speech therapist…one that’s so good we can’t get in for 2 months. (UGH.) As he gets older they will be able to make a more specific diagnosis (which disorder on the spectrum he has). I’ll keep everyone updated as the story develops.
Charlie is so darn smart…he’s always shocking us with his little misschevious plots and funny things he figures out. I hope that the world will see this and not see only his “delays”. I hope that the speech therapy works, that he does not regress, and that he no longer gets funny looks at the play yard when he makes loud yelling noises that draw major attention to his “delays”. Its hard for a mom to watch other people look at her child as Weird.
Well, as my mom pointed out today “Charlie has no idea other uneducated parents are looking at him funny, and he certainly isn’t bothered by it. Why should you be?”
Very true indeed.