Monday, January 24, 2011

New Year, New Achievements

Wylie is now two years old.

Two years ago, I was in the hospital still, recovering from the C-section. Wylie was so big and quiet. He was extraordinary, even then.

He was an unbelieveably "good" baby.  I remember in the hospital, all the babies would cry and carry on. Not Wylie. He cooed and made little dolphin noises, haha. But no crying.

When I took him home, his "good" attitude continued. All my friends who had babies around the same time would legitimately complain about lost sleep, patience, and sanity. Wylie slept through the night- 8 hours, easy. I was breastfeeding, and on painkillers, and would sleep through an alarm, waking up soaked to see my baby still sleeping. Large, loud dogs and screaming children of relatives were no match for Wylie's ability to sleep through anything.

When he was awake, he never cried to get what he wanted. In fact, he never, EVER cried, period, until he was maybe 2 months old and I accidentally pinched his leg in a swing snap. I would boast about it. "MY baby doesn't cry, guys, sorry, I just have no idea what you're going through!" I thought I was so funny, haha! I mean. Blame it on the (s)mothering magazines. We are told to "anticipate" our children's needs. Feed them, get them water, get them to bed before they are hungry, thirsty, or tired. If they are crying, it's too late. You've deprived them, and you're a bad mom.

In hindsight, I believe it's important to establish that your kid has the ability to communicate his or her needs at all. I mean. At least 1% of all children are going to have difficulties with communication. Shouldn't we be giving them a chance to express requests? But my problem with the (s)mothering magazines can be a whole post on its own, so I'll move on.

Anyway, he's 2 now, and he cries all the time. Ha ha! Not ALL the time, but I certainly hear it throughout the day. Mostly when he doesn't get what he wants, like any other 2 year old.  Unlike any other 2 year old, he finds it difficult to express his wants and desires with his words. He gets confused about the symbology of words, although he can usually figure out a word's function if it's important enough to him. His misuse of the word "Up" just makes me laugh. He figured out months ago that saying "Up!" would get him out of his crib or playpen, and soon he started using it whenever he wanted to be unrestrained. Naturally, he used it if we were holding him up and he wanted to run free. Now he has figured out that if we say "You ARE up!" to him, he should immediately respond with, "Down?" Haha! But, honestly, he hasn't learned the distinction between the two, and these are... these were some of his first words.

Wylie regressed when he was about 16 months. A word about regressive autism. It's a controversial concept in the Autism community. I think some people think to suggest that regressive autism exists is to suggest Autism a) has one single environmental factor (such as vaccines) and/or b) is a manifestation of a sickness that should be cured. Parents on Youtube routinely post videos of their uber weird infants and point out that their kids were always Autistic. Some of them pat themselves on the back for being more aware and educated than parents who "couldn't figure out something was wrong with their kid earlier, and then blamed the vaccines."

Now, these parents are wrong to think that just because their kids were "always Autistic," there is no such thing as regressive autism. There are plenty of videos of typically developing children who later regress into Autism. I kind of feel like I'm half and half, really. Wylie was an oddball as a baby. But he walked, talked, smiled, laughed, and spoke on time. His eye contact was always minimal, but it was present. But it was always a little weird. He would not focus on things.

There are things that would make my hair stand on end when he was a child that are, to this day, hard to talk about, because I was in extreme denial about it. Again, not helped by the magazines, whose editors and contributors seem to think a worrying mother is worse off than an oblivious mother. "Don't WORRY if your kid stares at fans. Fans are cool. He's experiencing the world for the first time! It's interesting!" We called the fan Wylie's God. He was intense as he watched it. I read here and there that this could be a sign of Autism, but it seemed to be so vague and to this day I don't know if neurotypical children like fans, as well, because, you know, I don't have a normal kid like that. He would be repetitive with buttons. I would come pick him up from his father's parents, and they would laugh and say "If he presses that 'Green Circle' button one more time, I'll scream. 'Green Circle, Green Circle, Green Circle!'" There were, like, 100 other buttons on the toy other than Green Circle. I wanted him to press any other button! He would rock a bit. Haha. "And you didn't know your kid was Autistic?" His rocking and his sounds were probably the things that made me crazy. But it wasn't back in forth rocking in a corner, guys, it was side to side, standing up, going "Hmm, Hmm." or "Ahh! Ahh!" Could say he was dancing. Haha.

The repetitive, ritualistic behavior was very noticeable, even before his language regressed. He was obviously, to me, "always Autistic."

But... he DID regress. Not just the language. His learning. He was learning so fast at such a phenomenal rate. He went from one day being an infant, to the beginning of 2010, running around, saying "Thank you!" and "Pretty!" and "Cracker!" and I remember there was no TEACHING him. He just got old enough to figure it out. One day I started throwing out one step commands. He followed them immediately, easily. "Wylie, go get the ball!" I wasn't even sure if he knew what a ball was. He began to look around, found one, and picked it up. On his first birthday, he called me. "Mama!" he wanted me to bring him a cookie. "Mama..." he called, reaching for a cookie.

By 16 months, he didn't pay me any attention. If anything, he saw me as a machine. A tool. He manipulated my hands to get what he wanted, without ever looking up. I remember reading an article about a young girl who had been video taped at 14 months, who wanted cookies our of a cookie jar, and manipulated her father's hands to try to get him to open the jar. He kept dropping his hand, and she kept picking it back up, but she never once looked up at her father's face. The article suggested this was an early sign, as later she was diagnosed with autism. (I looked it up, and it was a boy, manipulating a girl researcher's hand... haha)

When Wylie did the exact same thing, trying to get me to turn on Spongebob for him, I knew.

Anyway, I meant to actually talk more about where Wylie is NOW, at 2 years old, but it's refreshing that I was able to reflect a little. With intensive treatment, I spend most of my time thinking about now, or the future. I haven't been able to reflect a lot.

Wylie just opened the door and said, "Mama? What are you doing?"

Nothing, Baby. Let's go play.

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