Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Noticing the Change

Not that we didn't want more children, but it was a complete surprise when we found out that we were pregnant with my third child, and second son. A few bold individuals have asked why we decided to have another child when we knew that L. had autism. We did not know at the time. He wasn't diagnosed until one month before our third arrived. To be honest, we were so swept up in preparations for another baby and buying our first home that problems with L. were put on the back burner. We didn't really think there was anything wrong. He just wasn't talking, that's all, we told ourselves.

When I chanced to express concern everyone assured me that boys talked later than girls. That made sense because my daughter tends to be outspoken and very much a little mother. I gradually came to realize that no matter what others were telling me something was not right with our toddler. He went from being a wide eyed, smiling little child to a somber and often reclusive boy. He still liked to be cuddled. He still smiled occasionally but in general he was very withdrawn and non communicative.

We first approached our family doctor, who wisely pointed us in the direction of the public school systems Head Start program. After a great deal of working with him and testing him they confirmed to us that he had autism. But first they checked his hearing. I recall talking to my mother on the telephone, telling her that we had taken him in to make sure that he was deaf. She was thrilled that it wasn't that. But I was actually praying that it was. Deaf I could deal with. They could help him if he was hearing impaired. But no. It was Autism. It was a death sentence.
After scouring the Internet and learning that there was no cure, my husband and I felt utter despaired. How do you treat a problem that has no solution? I immediately grew depressed and really went through a period of morning, crying every time I saw children that were his age and what they could do, comparing the stark differences with my son. Any little thing brought me to tears. My husband reacted completely opposite. He insisted that L. would be fine. That he would out grow it. It was his way of coping. Later he too came to understand and admit that our son would never be fine. He would not grow out of it.

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