The things we noticed about L. were small things, that didn't mean much to us at the time. He did not make very good eye contact. It kind of depended on his mood. Sometimes he would look at you and smile, other times he used his peripheral vision in order to avoid you completely. He did not play with toys, he dumped them. He did not play with people, he played on them, climbing on you as if you were a jungle gym. He did not speak. He was sensitive to certain things, like too much noise, too many people, etc. L. was obsessive about certain programs on television, like Elmo's World. He also didn't do well with change in his schedule.
All of these things didn't seem that abnormal to me at the time. Odd, maybe but not unreasonable. After all he was only two. I just thought that he had his own unique personality.
When all of these things were pointed out to me as being characteristics of autism it was hard to believe. I looked on this beautiful, perfectly formed little boy and it was inconceivable to think that his brain was wired wrong. His programing was in a foreign language. What's worse is I had no idea how to speak that language. I think the hardest thing that I went through during that time was the thought that he would be made fun of, or treated badly. I had seen it before, in school when the kids would pick on the "Special Ed" students. It broke my heart to think that L. was going to be the butt of others jokes, ridiculed, harassed. It is something that still haunts me.