In 2009 my husband and I welcomed our second born into this world. It was a scary first few moments of his new life. His umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck, and the doctor held him up. We got a brief look before he was whisked away to the warmer. He didn’t cry. My husband and I were being ignored as we begged them to tell us what was happening. What in reality, only took about two minutes, seemed like an hour. Finally that sweet beautiful cry escaped our little boys lips and we sobbed. He was fine.
He was a very fussy baby compared to my first born. From the time he was three months old to around six months, I had to hold and walk around the house with him for three hours. I did this like clockwork every night at 9, until 12 pm. I had to be moving, and could NOT sit with him. He would still be fussing, but it wasn’t the blood curdling scream if I sat, or put him down.
He never slept through the night, and still doesn’t to this day unless I give him melatonin.
The babbling/talking started pretty strong. He would say simple words like mama, dada, hi, bye etc around 13 months, and then it stopped. He spoke his own language, but it didn’t make any sense to us, there we no coherent words.
The meltdowns started around that time. He would repeatedly hit his head against the wall, and scream and cry inconsolably for hours. I suspected autism, but I said no, not my baby. He’s fine, it’s just a stage!
When he was two and a half I took him in to be evaluated at an early intervention program. His speech was at an 18 month level, and fine/gross motor skills were behind as well. They told me to take him to his primary for an official diagnoses.
My son has high functioning autism. I thought I would be sad, angry, in denial, but all I felt was relief! I had an explanation for why my baby hurt himself, cried/screamed, and was violent toward us. I finally had answers.
I used to be one of those people who stared in public when a child would throw themselves on the ground, wondering why aren’t the parents doing anything? Can’t they control their child? That kid is a huge brat.
That may be the case. It could be they are just throwing a tantrum because they couldn’t get the chocolate bar, or a toy they saw at the register. Or it could be the little one is completely overwhelmed. The store is bright and loud, the cart is making noises that sounds like nails on a chalkboard, or they wanted to put groceries on the belt in a certain order.
Or maybe you see a child who is repeatedly saying “I like that toy, it’s purple” very loudly, over and over again while flapping their hands. You look at dad and he’s responding each time, and you wonder why he isn’t telling him to quiet down.
These children, AND adults on the spectrum look fine on the surface. Just like any other invisible illness. They are differently abled. My son is different abled, and just like every other “normal” human being he should be treated with kindness, regardless of what’s happening inside.
According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Developement, otherwise known as NICHD, 1 in 68 children in the US currently have autism. Remember, that is just the US, and doesn’t include adults.
Every single differently abled person no matter their disorder or illness, deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.
People on the autism spectrum disorder need others to be aware and understand that most of the time, every day situations and simple tasks require so much MORE effort. They need others to know that it’s hard to carry on a conversation or stop repeating themselves, or stop fidgeting.
I am my son’s advocate. I go to the IEP meetings, I struggle every day with the severe meltdowns, I had to call transportation and the school administration, because another child on the bus put his hands on my son’s neck because “he was being annoying”. My immediate reaction was wanting to do the same to that child. Then I came back to reality, and blame the parents. His parents should teach him to walk away from a situation that makes him uncomfortable.
Yes, my son can be completely overwhelming, with his constant humming and rambling on about his favorite game, my singing monsters. I feel the frustration, daily. I hurt for my baby. He cries and asks me why I can’t fix him. I tell him, you don’t need to be fixed! Everyone around you needs to understand!
I will always fight for my little guy. I will be his voice until he can be his own.