THE FIRST SIGNS OF AUTISM
When I was two years old, I hadn’t said a single word yet. That’s right; no ‘mommy’, no ‘daddy’; nothing. It was around this time that my parents were getting worried, because other kids my age were already saying up to 50 words and making small sentences.
At first they thought there might be something wrong with either my hearing or my tonsils and so they took me from doctor to doctor, from clinic to clinic. But they all concluded the same thing: physically I was damn near perfect.
One of the doctors however said that my parents should open themselves up to the possibility that my lack of speech was caused by a developmental disability and then THE word was first mentioned: autism.
At home, my mommy and daddy were sitting on the couch for hours with their iPads, Googling the word ‘autism’ and reading a great deal about it. It was at this moment that the puzzle pieces fell into place.
Many websites list ‘early signs of autism’ and going over them, my mom and dad could check off every single one. Apparently, much of what I was doing –or wasn’t doing- up until that time were considered ‘red flags’, such as:
Much of the above behaviour was noted by my parents during my first two years, but not deemed as alarming or reason to worry. I mean; who would ever think that walking on your toes a lot is a warning sign, instead of just something cute and endearing? Other things, like being colic or having problems eating, were consistently reported during regular check-ups, but my parents were always told by nurses and paediatrics that many other babies cry for hours and hours, and that this would simply pass over time.
It was when the research was done on autism that my parents realized I was not like ‘many other babies’ and that some things will not ‘simply pass’.
I’m now two and a half years old and am still not talking. This may take some time and I’m certainly going to need lots of help, from my parents and from experts in treatment for autistic children.
But you know what? Not a day passes that I do not laugh out loud. I LOVE the world around me. Exploring, playing, being tickled by daddy and hugging mommy. They love me for who I am and are always looking at what I CAN do, instead of what I can’t (yet) do. I heard them say to each the other day: ‘We wouldn’t want him to be any other way’, and that’s what I need. I know it’s not going to be easy for anyone and there’s a rough road ahead, but love will help me find my way and reach my potential.