Sunday, June 19, 2011


A friend recently told me that parents with autistic kids are in denial for a period of time. For me, it was about six months. When my son, Stewart, was about 20 months old, I noticed he had a speech delay. I went to the county for help, and they did an assessment. He was delayed enough that we qualified for services. A general skills teacher came to "play" starting in February, shortly after he turned two. After a few months, we brought in a speech pathologist. They both believed that Stewie had autistic tendencies. In December, we had a developmental evaluation and received a "moderately autistic" diagnosis. My husband and I were in disbelief. We had a second county evaluation done in January, to see if he would qualify for preschool. He did. They also agreed with the autistic diagnosis. Right as he turned three, Stewie started preschool. He loved going on the bus, and enjoyed going to school, too. Two months later, we had a parent teacher conference with his teacher, who agreed that Stewie was autistic.

What a word - autistic. When I think of it, I do not think of my son. I think of those poor souls who are much more severely affected by it. How could my son be autistic? He is a sweet, smart kid. He has a good heart, even if he can be ornery at times. He likes to be around people, and he tries to engage others in what he finds interesting. He does well with adults because they focus on what he is interested in and talk to him about it to his heart's content. Adults don't require as much back-and-forth as little kids do. As much as my son loves playing with other kids, he can take it or leave it. For the longest time, it didn't bother him if a kid came up and took the toy he was interested in. He's starting to get over that now, but I was concerned because I didn't want him to be bullied or taken advantage of because of his cooperative nature.

It's only been in the last few weeks that I have been able to accept his autism diagnosis. I know better than to compare him to other kids, but I can't help it. I know he's different, but I still love him for it. I just want other parents to know why he acts differently when we're at playgroups and he's not participating in a similar manner as the other kids. Or why he doesn't speak as clearly and coherently as his friends who are the same age. Of course, I don't want people to discount him because of his autism. He is capable of so much, and I am careful to not let him get away with things he shouldn't because of his autism. It's possible I push him a little more, just because he is really smart and when he puts his mind to things, he figures it out and gets a sense of pride and accomplishment.

I think my husband is still in denial. I am not going to push him to come out of it. I am just going to talk about my feelings here, mention blurbs on facebook, get more knowledgeable about autism and education around it, and get a support system in place. His mother is already supportive, which is both (pleasantly) surprising and comforting. This blog is for me and my family, but I hope others find enjoyment, solidarity, and useful information here in my future posts.