My son’s first year was filled with problems. Looking back now, I see them as warning signs for what was to come. Signs that he would one day be diagnosed as autistic. At the time, I was riding an emotional roller coaster.
It’s very important to have the right doctor for you newborn. As a first time mom, I thought I was incompetent. A lot of that could have been helped by a doctor that was familiar with treating children with developmental delays. I remember asking for a developmental evaluation at ten months, and her telling me I had to wait until he was one year. Now I know that he should have been seen even before ten months.
My son hated being held by females. He would tolerate my mother-in-law, more than he did me. Maybe that was because he was tired out from crying by the time she got off of work. He had a really time feeding. At first, the doctor blamed me. She diagnosed my son as “failure to thrive.” Another doctor in the office started noticing that he had breathing problems, and sent us to a specialist. That doctor told us that one of his nostrils was completely swollen, and the other was really small. Because of this, when he drank from a bottle, he couldn’t breathe at all.
By ten months, my son was missing most of his milestones. He was crawling on his back. He would put the top of his head on the floor, and push off with his feet. Needless to say, he had a big bald spot for a long time. His arms and legs were like spaghetti, very low muscle tone. He couldn’t sit up on his own, and had trouble keeping his head up.
He preferred to be left alone, on the floor. He would back-crawl around, playing with the plastic rings we would put out for him. He had a couple of rattles that he liked, too. Loud or noisy toys were not allowed around him. He would get completely hysterical when he heard them.
The first few months were so hard. He cried most of the time. Was constipated, a lot. For the most part, the more I tried to calm him down, the harder he cried.
Things started getting easier when I discovered that he preferred to be left alone on the floor. I would watch him teach himself about his environment. Then the problems would be when we left the house. Now, I know it was sensory overload. Then, I didn’t have a clue. He would have awful meltdowns. At church, I would have to take him outside. In stores, I would rush through, get and pay for what I absolutely needed, and leave. I got into the habit of depending on my husband to go to the store for me, before he went to work. This worked good, until we got hit with a snow storm, and I needed formula.
Family gatherings were extremely hard. Whenever we left, he would be so worked up from sensory overload, that he would be inconsolable the whole night. I remember feeling scared that something was something wrong. He sounded like he was in physical pain.
While all of this was going on, I would watch ,or hear stories about, my niece and my cousin’s son. They were both around my son’s age, just a few months apart. They were doing all kinds of things my son wasn’t. It really stood out when they were together. I remember feeling like a failure as a mother. There were times that I really didn’t want to be around them, or anyone else. I just wanted to shut myself away from the world. Luckily, I didn’t. I continued going out into the public, with my son. I continued being around other family members with kids. I wouldn’t go out just the two of us, if I could help it. I would wait for someone to be home that could go with me.
Eleven years ago, people didn’t talk about Autism the way they do now. It wasn’t understood. Professionals didn’t want to consider ASD until the child was older. That is why my son was not diagnosed until he was 5. By that time, he was considered too old for ABA therapy. I’m still fighting that. We lost a lot of time. I wish I could go back and get that time back.