How the hell did I miss it? Seriously, how the hell did I stick my head that far in the sand? I’ve been down this road before. I fought to get Cameron diagnosed because shortly after his first birthday it clicked, I just knew. Cameron was five and a half before someone listened, before being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, but I knew my child and I knew what was wrong.
So how in the world did I miss it this time? For the last several weeks I have been kicking myself daily. Nearly a month and a half ago I was still believing I could be wrong, that I was just paranoid. At this point I cannot imagine the school assessment team coming back with anything other than an autism diagnosis. The speech delay I explained away to myself. He’s babbling so he had the sounds, he’s not ready yet, he’s just being a hardheaded little boy. Oh yes, DENIAL. I had it bad! Toe walking, he’s just trying to get closer to see it better or reach. Spinning, all kids like to do that. Picky eater, all toddlers go through this stage. Not responding to his name, he’s definitely a Wade! Not sleeping, great another night owl. Sound sensitive, oh he must not be feeling good today. Things thrown over and over for the sound they make, boy he’s wild today. Scratching his arms, your nails grow so fast let me get the clippers. Pinching himself, oh baby don’t do that it will hurt. Bouncing off the furniture and walls (literally), did I give him too much sugar? Repeating sounds and tunes, oh he likes music. Lack of eye contact, well he does for a second I’m imagining things. No fear of being hurt, I’ve got a little daredevil.
IT’S NOT JUST A RIVER
Bruises from climbing dresser drawers or the window sill and falling and never crying that it hurt. Uncontrollable laughing when any other child would know you’re mad at them. Completely stopping talking, no words for days sometimes weeks. Lining up toys, the cereal boxes, his food on the table. Other kids he ignored unless they had something he wanted to take from them. The blanket that is screamed for if left and must have a certain type of tag to be acceptable. The transitions from one thing to another that don’t come easily. Hour long tantrums if Mommy leaves the room before Daddy does when closing the door at bedtime. I had it so bad, so so bad. I want to cry because I knew and I talked myself out of it. I told myself I was paranoid because of Cameron. I told myself people would think I was crazy and that I was just trying to get attention by saying there was something wrong with my child. My husband knew but my mind screamed that he was wrong, he had to be, this could not be happening again.
First school assessment and we discussed what needed to happen next and autism assessment was brought up. I asked if it was because his brother was on the spectrum and she said well his paperwork from his therapist says autism concerns. I was confused. I was floored. No one had mentioned it to me and my bubble I had been living in began to dissolve. I couldn’t be paranoid if the professionals had concerns. One of the assessment team members, the speech pathologist, said she saw the need for the assessment from what she had seen that day. There was a mistake, there had to be, because already having one child on the spectrum I simply could not be that blind. The next evening I was making dinner and I turned to see my excited sweet boy running towards the kitchen and he stopped and bounced in place. Then I noticed it. How had I not seen it before? He was flapping his hands over and over and just like that, my bubble burst.
His occupational therapist did a sensory evaluation and came back with a diagnosis of sensory processing dysfunction. Daily I become more aware of the fact that I cannot unsee what has been staring me in the face for so long. I knew all along but I didn’t want to know if that makes any sense. I think one of the things that makes it so hard for me right now is how different Charlie is from how Cameron was at this age. Cameron had signs but now with Charlie it seems as though the signs are all flashing neon. Every time I see another autistic behavior it is like being slapped in the face by my own ignorance because I know what autism looks like. I have lived with autism for ten years knowing and five and a half of that being diagnosed.
Charlie and Cameron are proof that no two kids on the spectrum are the same. Cameron had enough autistic behaviors to be on the spectrum and Charlie, we will have his ARD meeting for school on March 28th and be given his assessment then, but there is no longer any doubt in my mind. Daily he is showing more pronounced autistic behaviors than Cameron ever did at his age.
My head is out of the sand and my bubble is officially burst but you know what? My journey with Cameron led me to some amazing Spectrum Mommies and already God has been paving the way for this journey to be easier the second time around. Slowly as I have reconnected with people from my past I have also increased my tribe of Spectrum Mommies. It was unexpected to discover so many from my school days that I was finding on Facebook were also dealing with the world of autism with their children. I know now what a blessing that widening my circle has been. I felt the nudge and not knowing why I listened to that inner voice and clicked to send or accept those friend requests. That nudge I felt, I truly believe, was God paving the path for the journey to come.
For we walk by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV