My husband began to suspect before I did that our daughter may have it. I, being such the experienced teacher that I was ( ha!) thought that all kids acted that way sometimes. Furthermore all kids develop at their own place. Then came the talking issue. She had a vocabulary at age 2 of about 20 or so words. I guess that was not enough. I still did not see my daughter as different from the rest. I was still excusing and going with the “wait and see” approach. Finally we had her “officially evaluated” by a linguistic. She gave us results and stated that she most probably has autism.
Again, I was in denial. I remember the follow up meeting with the language lady. “That’s a pretty strong conclusion after just meeting with my daughter for just one hours time.” I said.
“I think I am more right than I am wrong.” she said. I walked away wanting to prove her wrong. Awhile later we had her evaluated officially by the guru of autism in these parts. This doctor was impressive, knowledgeable, personable, -pretty much the only doctor that could tell me the heartbreaking news “Your daughter has autism.”
“Okay, okay,” I said with tears “So we’ll aim for the Temple Grandin kind”
“Oh,” he said “I think her social ceiling could be higher than that – sky is the limit.”
I hear these words from him over and over again. In a way, I am encouraged and then there a setbacks and I am reminded- she has autism.
I understand she has autism. But I fight it at times. I observe kids all day long. Considering the humongous size of the spectrum, I am probably on it and you too. When I consider the symptoms which were indicative of my daughter being diagnosed autistic, I often think of the number of times of I have seen the same symptoms in the typical child. Consider :
Eye contact- I know that a principal I had for many years, once told me to make better eye contact with my classroom parents. I notice my students look off into the distance whenever they are speaking to me. And how many times did your mother say to you- Please look at them and say “hello”.
Sensory needs- In this day in age there is so much at us. Lights, action, noises, all at speed faster than light. It’s no wonder we need our nature music – you know the kind you might hear in a massage parlor. I see kids each day needing to touch, move, and needing step by step visual direction in order or concentrate and relax.
Socialization and play-these things did not and still do not come naturally for my daughter and with her brother acting as Congressman want to be – it is sometimes a real stick out for her. Yet, is is the complaint of many teachers and parents, that kids need to play and need play practice. Because it does not come naturally anymore. They know the ropes of the video game but they can’t invent their own kick the can. Socially, the young child needs to do the same things – say hello using a person’s name, take turns, follow through with a sequence of play, and carry on an actual conversation related to the play scheme.
But the reality is my daughter is not typical. She is out of the box. More so than others I guess. Because there is no normal out there is there? If there is than what is normal? For me as a mom of a not so typical child, life goes from “pretty smooth and count my blessings” to “couldn’t I just go the zoo and have a good time without a child crawling up my legs or see the Nutcracker all the way through without a girl on my lap plugging her ears or walk into Lowes without dragging a heavy weight into the store or be able to go to the car wash with her in the car because I just need to get it done… ?
For me we go to therapy to learn how to process and control sensory input, carry on a relevant conversation, use connected language, play, and move safely and meaningfully in this world. For me, I story all the time- about things I would care NOT to story about. For me I coach on the sidelines of play all the time. For me my food bible is Jessica Seinfeld. ( and that is a huge surprise for me- I wanted my kids eating Armenian and Greek food by now)
The acceptance and understanding is that with God all things will work out for good and all things are possible. (A little paraphrase from Romans and Matthew) She has autism. With that come all the predictions and what ifs. Accepting is not easy because I am still learning to understand. Life of three steps forward and one step back. A lesson learned. A challenge before me. Autism. A life of understanding it and accepting it all in one day.