When my now 19 month old son was 17 months, I started noticing signs that seemed off about him. I knew the typical toddler behaviors but my son, was different. I had already known the signs of autism from all of my medical research/background. Yes, he was very different. During the day he seems really focused on tapping things a certain number of times, holding his ears at the slightest noise and getting extremely emotional over seemingly nothing. He also had other odd things such as being focused on only saying a few words, doing the same thing every day and cowering at the thought of talking to people he doesn’t know or being around children.
Having an Autistic child is very difficult and having an Autistic Toddler is extremely exhausting. I can easily say that I was not prepared for this but, I’m doing the best I know how. Thank God for support groups. So anyway, my son is so focused on the few things he’s obsessed with that he doesn’t like anything to change or go wrong in his routine and therefore, we basically work around his schedule.
For example: My son likes to play with the pup’s we have, go outside and play with his rocks and grass (When I say his, I mean that he has chosen pebbles that go every where with him), go to the store, play with all of the playground balls that he has and tap on things.
That may seem like a lot but, with him it’s so limited and he’s so focused on everything that he does, he’s not interested in anything else. Sometimes he even wakes up in the middle of the night to perform his “rituals”. It’s very stressful because well, my husband and I don’t get much sleep and it’s hard for us to change his schedule at all. Now, some people have actually said to me “He’s a kid, you’re the boss, just make him do what you want”. It’s not that way with an Autistic Toddler, it simply doesn’t work because, unlike temper tantrums that most toddler’s have, our son actually has full on mental breakdowns that make it impossible for him to function.
He is also extremely attached to three items of his, a stuffed caterpillar, a blanket with whales on it and his pebble rocks. Those items have to go along with us any where we go.
I think that Autism is very much misunderstood by those who don’t know anyone that has it and everything is difficult with an Autistic child. For instance, even simple tasks such as bathing, changing his pull up, changing clothes, putting him to bed, talking loud (even if we’re not speaking to him), public environments, being around other kids etc. it becomes very intense and very stressful to just do simple things that some people take for granted.
To know that our son may never fully develop and that he may need help the rest of his life is almost devastating. Will he be able to have a family? Will he be able to ever have a career or go to college? We don’t know the answer to that yet and we won’t even be able to guess that until he’s much older. For anyone who has an autistic child, I’m sure you can relate to these things. Whether or not you have an autistic child, please comment on this blog and tell me your thoughts.