As you well know, our son Will is exhibiting signs of autism. The number one indicator is that at almost age four, he's practically non-verbal. He has some other fine motor delays as well including an inability to really feed or dress himself. And the stimming - Will is completely content staring at his fingers as he moves them around. All of these things suggest to me that an official diagnosis is coming in the very near future. Mostly, it will confirm what Ryan and I already know. But it will also allow us some closure and certainty so we can move on and continue trying to make him better.
For a while now, I've been determined to find videotapes I made of Will when he was younger. I wanted to see if there were signs that we missed that might've tipped us off early on that something was wrong. I finally came across the tapes yesterday and I stopped everything I was doing to watch them.
What I saw amazed me. Will was normal. Will was doing everything a normal kid would do. He did things that are typical of a normally developing child - he cooed, babbled, laughed, and waved. He grasped toys and followed instructions. He would smile and interact with us. We could engage his attention. He would occasionally imitate words. He would respond if we called his name. He was happy.
Then around 14 or 15 months, we started seeing a change. Will stopped responding to his name. He seemed distant and unfocused. Then in one shocking clip, Will is sitting in his high chair in a complete daze. I think he quickly glanced up at me once after I called his name over and over and over again. Then I picked up a piece of pizza sitting on his tray and shoved it in his mouth which he promptly ate. That's when it hit me. Will wasn't born with autism. Something is causing it, and now we have to determine the culprit so we can try to get that happy kid we know is in there somewhere to let us in so we can help him come out!
Interestingly, I already have an appointment scheduled for Will to see a DAN (Defeat Autism Now) doctor next month. These doctors evaluate children on the spectrum for allergies (to stuff like gluten and casein), high metal levels, vitamin deficiencies, etc. Based on test results, the doctor can recommend a biomedical course of treatment that used in addition to conventional therapies may help children with autism. I know several moms who swear by this approach. They'll tell you that as soon as they started their children on gluten free diets, they started talking. That after they rid their children's bodies of toxins, they started focusing more. I had been hesitant to go this route, but now I'm convinced it's the route we need to take. Again, Will was not born with autism - something's causing it and we need to figure out what's going on in that little body of his so we can treat him accordingly.
Honestly, I have some hope now because I know a normal kid is in there. That little piggy just needs to cooperate and let us in. We're going to find him. We're going to beat this.
In happier, normal times...
And now, our little space cadet