Does Your Child Have Autism?

Do they?  I didn’t think mine did.  My GP didn’t think he did either.  I was on the fence thinking maybe something was up but not the big A-word.

Truth is, you can’t tell…and your GP usually can’t either.

The moment I walked into the pediatricians office it was a whole new story.  He took one look at my son and came up with this long list of reasons why he very clearly DID have autism, all these reasons I had never ever heard of.

The A-word was at the back of my mind for soooo long but…Silas cuddled.  I thought that meant he didn’t have autism.  (We are a society that’s VERY uneducated about the signs of autism and now with one in ever 95 kids being diagnosed, it’s time we all become experts so we can catch it early)

I’ll never forget what he said, you can tell they have autism by how they act on their first birthday.  A typical child will be into their presents, engaging with the other children, eating their entire piece of cake and getting messy, playing with their new toys, enjoying the attention.  What did Silas do?  He cried, mostly.  He wasn’t into his present and didn’t seem to understand the whole present opening thing.  He poked at his cake and pretty much had an all around horrible time.

Now I can spot a kid with autism in a crowd no problem.  It’s so easy.  The way they walk, the way they play, the general energy they give off.  There’s been a few cases where I’d have had no clue…or it’s just taken me a long time to notice.

Lets just say this, folks.  There’s more to autism than a kid who doesn’t snuggle or doesn’t look you in the eyes.  Your GP doesn’t know all these things and you probably don’t either.  Here’s some weird warning signs Silas had that wouldn’t have made anyone think twice…but all together it made up autism.  I’ll start with the more obvious ones and go down the list to the ones you’ve never heard of.

– Little talking, no conversation, repeated sentences.  Echolalia

– Big melt downs, head smashing, violence

– Spinning things or fixating on objects spinning

– Lining toys up

– major food aversions

– little eye contact

– freaked out in public or big crowds in our home

– obsessions

– wouldn’t play with a toy properly.  He’d play with parts of a toy but never used a toy for it’s purpose.  A car was just something to spin the wheels with.  No pretend play, toys were used for lining up and seen as only objects, no meaning behind them.

– wouldn’t engage in groups of children

– wouldn’t understand instruction

– wouldn’t point or follow a point…still can’t lol.

– wouldn’t put his mouth over a spoon as a baby so I had to scrape it on his top teeth

– didn’t know how to spit out food he didn’t like

– couldn’t chew well…had baby food till a late age and still has trouble properly chewing

– couldn’t do age appropriate motor skills

– wouldn’t notice airplanes or birdies flying by when other kids his age would.

– excessive about cuddling, always needed it.

– Didn’t understand waiting in line or taking turns

– No conversational skills…still has a super hard time with it

– wouldn’t eat white or orange food.

– couldn’t grasp a writing utensil hard enough to make a dark line (sometimes they grasp TOO hard and draw TOO dark…some symptoms can be opposite of each other)

– easily frustrated

– wouldn’t let me touch his head

– wouldn’t notice his clothes were tangled up

– didn’t walk till 13 months..preffered to crawl

– would crawl along the floor with his head down watching the floor go by

– only played with books as a baby (he knew how to look through them before he was even crawling)

– when he was first able to focus as a newborn he’d stare at the ceiling fan

– eczema and frequent ear infections

– loves routine too much

– weird rituals…like when we used to drive in our out of our complex we always had to say hi to the red truck.

– extremely irritated by loud noises…would freak out

– loves bashing and crashing around

– loves a bit of pain

– super low muscle tone.  Rubbery-like joints and super flexible.

– troubles brushing teeth, changing diapers, haircuts, washing hair

So that’s Silas…but there can be so much more and so many different or even opposite signs.

The thing is, if your child seems behind their peers in a lot of ways, it’s time to see the GP and get a referral to the pediatrician and DONT take no for an answer.  Your GP doesn’t know ANYTHING about autism and most likely wont see all the strange signs that aren’t so common.  I brought Silas’ favourite thing to spin to show the doc how he fixates on it and that was the ONLY reason he referred me with the words “I don’t think he has autism at all but I don’t like the way he’s looking at that thing”.  A few weeks later I have the Ped saying “your child has autism, do you need some tissue?”.

I know it can be scary and I know it’s one of those most awful feelings in the world to realize your child isn’t going to lead a “typical” life.  The worst thing you can do for them is ignore the signs.  It’s so incredibly selfish.

With autism, every moment is a lost moment if you’re not working with them.  Before the age of 5-6 all these doors are open in their brain and they will NEVER be opened again…meaning they’re not going to learn it if they haven’t learned it already…or it’ll be extremely difficult.  Wasting time being scared or denying is REALLY wasting precious time…it effects their entire lives.

We all go through the guilt of feeling like we didn’t catch it soon enough.  The main thing you need to do as a parent is CATCH it.  No matter when, just catch it so something can be done and catch it as soon as you can and don’t look back and feel guilt about what you could have done earlier.

It’s painful to hear the words “your child has autism”.  The day I heard them I told the ped I didn’t need kleenex and that I was fine, I promptly walked out of the office and into my friend’s office next door and bawled my eyes out to her, then a bawled all the way home and then I think I found myself laying, face down, on my kitchen floor screaming my face off.  Those memories still make me cry….even as I write them down.

But, why does it matter?  As a parent you have to man up and do everything you can for your child even if it means you’re in so much pain that you’re screaming into your kitchen floor every day.

Remember, your child isn’t something you own.  They’re their own person and it’s your job to make sure they have what they need to equip them for their adult life.  We can’t do it all but the worst thing you can do is ignore what’s there.

End rant 🙂

3 comments

  1. Great post.
    Moving, true,
    and useful for parents who aren’t aware of their child’s signs.
    Thanks!
    I also know Silas is an incredibly intelligent boy. All the best to him in 2011 (ok, and to you too 😉

  2. I would like to comment that while “no eye contact” is definiety a sign of Autism, the absence of this sign isn’t proof that the child is not on the Autism Spectrum.
    I have 11 yr old classic autism grandchild and two Aspie adopted children. Autism can include some of the symptoms above, all of the symtoms but the absence of one or more is not conclusive to a “no autism diagnosis. Very true that average Medico’s, general G.P’s are not skilled in diagnosing this disorder. Only specialists in the field can do that correctly.

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