When your child is born, your world is full of wonder. Well, that may not be entirely true. When you look backward…the world of infancy was full of wonder. Somehow the sleepless nights, diapers, and puke fade away. Personally, I think it’s the only way we survive as humans. If we really remembered all the pain, poop, and exhaustion I don’t imagine women would continue having babies. Anywho…
Yes, we are full of wonder. Full of the possibilities for our child. No one expects that something will go awry, although – really, it should be expected. I once saw a cartoon that had a version of ‘what you thought your life would be’ and ‘what life actually is.’ The first graph is a smooth 45 degree angle. The second graph looks more like a roller coaster that would make you vomit. Jeeepers, there is a lot of puke talk in this post. That’s all…I promise.
The thing about autism is that most of us don’t know. Everything is going just as planned and then BAM! Like the biggest BAM ever…so, how did I know? What were the first signs that something was different? NOT wrong, mind you – just different.
I went to college to be a teacher and I consider that to be a blessing in so many ways. In early diagnosis, in speaking the same language as the wonderful teachers who would surround him, and especially in knowing something wasn’t quite ‘right.’
Tucker was slow to develop language. He would talk when he needed, but certainly was not a conversationalist. This is quite shocking for those who know me. I loooooove to talk. So, it certainly wasn’t for the lack of language in our home. My dad told me not to worry about it – when he was ready to talk he would. He was using his own personal experience because he didn’t talk much until he was five. Looking back, I wonder if he would have been identified. My dad and Tucker share many of the same unique characteristics…but that’s for another post.
So, I decided to not really worry about the lack of language. I knew he understood, and when he really wanted or needed to communicate, he did.
Then, there was a moment. Tucker LOVED (and still does) puzzles. One day he was putting together a Scooby Doo puzzle. As a good mom (and teacher) I was directing him to find the edge pieces. Naturally, that is how we solve puzzles, right? Edge pieces first. He refused. I learned early on with this kiddo that it was futile to argue if he had made up his mind. So, I let the teacher in me take over….
I sat back and said, “Go ahead. Show me how to put it together.” He looked at the box. He studied the box.
He found the pieces for Shaggy. He put together Shaggy.
He found the pieces for Scooby. He put together Scooby.
He found the pieces for Velma. He put together Velma.
He found the pieces Daphne. He put together Daphne.
He found the pieces for Fred. He put together Fred.
He found the pieces for the Mystery Machine. He put together the Mystery Machine.
He was 3.
Then, he studied the box again. He slid all the characters into their respective places. Then, one by one he took each remaining edge piece and stared at it. He placed each piece it its appropriate place. Only mixing up two.
He was 3.
Later, I would understand that this is part of his autism. It’s difficult for him to ‘see’ the big picture, he thrives in the world of detail. He puts together the pieces. He must see the pieces before he sees the whole. But, he also has to see the whole – to understand the end goal.
Next, he went to Preschool. Preschool was wrought with notes home, emails, and calls from the teacher. He struggled, in preschool. His mom is a College Professor…how can he be struggling?!?!?! IN PRESCHOOL!?!?!
So, his teacher contacted the AEA (Area Education Agency) and I was brought into the world of Sensory Processing Disorder. I heard the words. I Googled the words and what came up? Autism Spectrum Disorder. My eyes fell, my tears began – how could this perfect boy have autism?
Next, I went to the University’s library and pulled every book, magazine, website, and article that I could find on this sensory thing – I started reading, reading, and reading more. I read on the treadmill, I read waiting in the car, I read before bed, I read during breakfast, anywhere I could – I needed to know more. I knew the more information I had the more I would be able to understand. Then, I read the “The Out Of Sync Child” by Carol Kranowitz. I was finally done reading – at least for understanding sake. If you are a person who loves Tucker, or a child like Tucker, get this book. Read it. Internalize it. Then, you will get it.
He has autism. It doesn’t really matter how ‘far’ onto the spectrum he is, he is ‘far’ enough that he needed professional help.
That is when our journey began.
Preschool got better…but then he went to Kindergarten Round-Up…