This past Thursday night, as Dominic and I were waiting for his music therapist, I noticed him displaying a "classic" sign of Autism. There were two men standing right in front of the water fountain chatting away. Since Dominic had eaten some pretzels in the car on the way, he was thirsty. I told him to go over to the water fountain and get himself something to drink. He walked right between the two men, it was like they didn't exist. There are three areas that children with Autism have difficulties or impairments in - social, communication and behavioral. I did a little experiment with Dominic yesterday morning. Usually, when he wakes up and comes downstairs, I say something like, "hey, how are you doing?" Yesterday, I didn't say anything. Within about 20 seconds, he said, "mommy." That might not seem like a big deal, but it was to me. I can be the "queen" of prompting. By that I mean, I catch myself a lot not giving him enough time to initiate conversation - guess I get too impatient! While Dominic is not where a "typical" almost 10-year old boy should be with language, he can string simple sentences together and let us know what he needs. I really feel for those parents of non-verbal children. They are my heroes, I can't even imagine what that must be like. Lately, since we are pretty sure Dominic is going through a growth spurt, he has been saying, "I'm really hungry!" to the hubby, Lauren or I. We look right at him and say, "well, go get yourself something to eat!" A favorite snack is an apple or strawberries. Dominic will go get a plate and put the apple on it. If more time goes by and I haven't cut up the apple for him, he will say, "cut it up." If we have strawberries in the fridge, he will go in, grab the container and put a bunch on a plate. He will then say, "cut off the tops." Behavior in a child with Autism is different for every child. It's not a one size fits all as far as therapies go. A common therapy is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Here is a great link that explains more about that type of therapy: http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/treatment/applied-behavior-analysis-aba . If you are a parent of a child newly diagnosed with Autism, I highly recommend the Autism Speaks website. It is a great starting point if you feel overwhelmed. Even if you don't have a child with Autism, check it out - here is the link to their website: http://www.autismspeaks.org/ . It tells you anything and everything you've ever wanted to know! When I found out that Dominic had Autism at about age 2 1/2, it was a difficult process towards acceptance. Some of the feelings I felt were sadness and anger. I spent two weeks feeling sorry for myself and then said, "enough is enough, now it's time to move on, how can I help him?" It's a process that is different for every parent and it can't be rushed. Once you make it to the other "side" of acceptance, then you can focus on what is best for your child. Do I sometimes wish Dominic didn't have Autism? Yes, that thought does cross my mind sometimes. Do I get a little jealous when I see kids Dominic's age being able to do much more than he can? Yes, once in a while. Raising a special needs child is challenging, I won't lie. They are moments that are difficult, but you just have to keep moving forward (not backwards) and continue to be your child's biggest supporter! This morning, Dominic got up at 5 a.m. again, but he showed me this Lego heart and said, "Happy Valentine's Day, dear Mommy!" I love the added bonus of the powdered sugar on his cheek and lips from a doughnut!
How can I be too upset with him about getting up so early, when he shows me so much love?