I bought some dried beans and made you a sensory bin. I’m watching you play in it now delighted by the way the beans slide out of your hands and the sound they make when you play in them. I wonder what you are thinking. I love watching you study everything and the way you look at everything from every angle possible is intriguing. You are so happy most of the time never complaining always exploring looking for more smells, tastes, sounds, sensations, and sights. When I think of you I think of a bird in a cage. You are the bird and the cage is autism. You are constantly trying to escape the cage and explore the world like I do and I am always trying to get into that cage with you and experience the world like you, exhausted by the struggle.
It’s so strange how strong a mother’s intuition is when it comes to her children. When you were old enough to start reaching milestones you were pretty much on point with the exception of a few such as walking which took you until you reached 13 months to master. Since you were born a month early and all children are different we really didn’t think to much about it. When I took you for your 12 month check up and mentioned that you were not really talking the doctor wanted to wait until you were 18 months to recommend intervention which is the standard. You said mama, pop pop, poop and babbled. You began to lose those words and by 18 months you rarely said mama and other than that you made noises but not the typical word forming sounds. Just Oliver sounds.
There were red flags and you were wrapped tight in every one of them. No pointing, little eye contact, no pretend play and going off on your own around other children, no gestures, not being able to follow simple requests…. When I walked out of the doctors office with that referral I felt validated. Finally someone believed me. I knew something was wrong and someone else thought so as well. When the neurologist diagnosed you with autism, that was the moment the world changed. It was on.
I cried at that appointment and off and on for a few days afterwards and it wasn’t because I was disappointed or feeling sorry for myself. I cried for your heart Oliver. The world can be cruel and you are so lovely, so curious, so clever, so wonderful… Everyone that meets you completely falls for you. You have a sweet disposition and you rarely make life difficult. On the contrary! You make life worth the work. Right now you are non verbal just making sounds but you speak to me Oliver. Your eyes speak to me and I want you to know I’m listening all the time. How scary it must be to live in a world that doesn’t understand you. A world where you can’t communicate. Where there are so many sounds, feelings, sights, smells, tastes, and they are all coming at you at once. I’m here.
I call you quirky and it’s one of my favorite characteristics about you. How you spin yourself and everything you touch. Even if it isn’t meant to spin you figure out how and you do it well. How you jump on the recliner and push the back down so you can rock on it coming inches from the carpet only to know just how to balance so it doesn’t touch the ground. How you are obsessed with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and you have to have it on constantly even if you aren’t watching it. Even though I can recite every episode they have ever made I still love that you love it so much. I love how you close your eyes when you are rocking on that chair and feel the sensation letting it nearly smother you. I love how you clap and flap your hands. I love how you come over to me just to feel my leg and make sure I am still in your presence even if you are uncomfortable looking me in the eye. I love how I can make you laugh or smile no matter how tired you are.
Everything makes sense now. All the worry and anxiety that nearly ate me alive wasn’t my imagination. All of the reading and relentless searching was for a reason. Yesterday I realized that I truly am the mother of an autistic child when you grabbed the mashed potatoes out of the refrigerator and I said, “Oliver put those back they do not spin!!!” Keep spinning Oliver. I will spin with you if you will let me. Let’s spin together through this life. I love you my peanut.
- Looking for resources on autism (ask.metafilter.com)
- Common Signs and Symptoms of Autism in Children (pediatrics.answers.com)
- Autistic children look less friendly to peers (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Best Approaches and Therapies for Autism Treatment (helpthemshine.wordpress.com)
- Letting Our Autistic Kids Have Chill Time (squidalicious.com)
- Sensory Sensitivities Are Underestimated (annettegaylewood.wordpress.com)