Friday, June 20, 2008

Autism Adventure: Part I

It was at Kindermusik class that I first knew something was not right with Ryne, besides just being a late talker. As the animated instructor sang cheerful instructions, the other children happily sat in the circle and tapped their rhythm sticks. The other moms sat with their children, smiling at the cuteness of it all. Everyone was enjoying themselves, but me. I was busy trying to persuade my son to join the circle, but he wanted nothing to do with it. He was perfectly happy lying flat on the floor and staring out of the corner of his eye at the mirror that covered an entire wall of the classroom. Some weeks he would have one of his Thomas trains (usually Henry), and he would slowly roll the train up and down along the mirror. If I tried to pick him up from this position, he would scream and tantrum.

Ryne was 18 months old when we started the Kindermusik class. Up until that time I hadn't really noticed anything that different. He and his older sister are only 19 months apart in age, so you'd think I would have realized sooner that his behavior was abnormal. But then again, I don't think he had always been that way.

I had a good friend whose oldest child was just a couple of months younger than Anna. And then she was pregnant with #2 the same time as I was pregnant with Ryne. In fact, her due date was a couple of days earlier than mine. We ended up delivering at the same hospital, with her son being born the day after Ryne. Because this friend and I talked almost daily on the phone, attended play groups together, and scrapbooked together, we did a fair amount of comparing our boys' development. They seemed to hit every milestone within days or weeks of each other, except maybe starting solid foods and teething (all my kids were late with those two milestones). By their first birthday the other boy seemed to be developing a little faster, but it certainly didn't cause any alarm on our part. He was saying several words and Ryne had just spoken his first word, "cracker." We were just relieved Ryne was talking -- Anna had been language delayed (more on that in a bit), so we were more aware of language development now.

I'm not really sure what happened between 12 and 18 months. Although as an infant he had a short spell with colic, he was generally an easy baby. But as a toddler he seemed to be into everything. He was constantly climbing on top of the kitchen table. He was always running off. I remember the Christmas when he was 17 months old, I was washing dishes and heard a cry. It sounded like Ryne, but it was a distant cry and Ryne was in the next room with Marc, Anna, and my parents who were in town. I went to check on Ryne and noticed a side door open partially open. We found him out wandering in the icy driveway, barefoot! So yes, he was a handful, but everyone just assured me he was 100% B-O-Y.

He continued to add words to his vocabulary, but he seemed to have kind of a funny pattern. He would say a word, use it frequently for a couple of weeks, and then we'd never hear it again. This continued for the next year, up to the time of his diagnosis.

As I mentioned earlier, Anna had been a late talker -- she even received speech therapy for a few months. But about the middle of her second year, she just suddenly started talking and caught up to her peers within months. Because of our experience with Anna, our pediatrician brushed away our concerns about Ryne's speech, saying he was going to be like Anna, and because he's a boy it might take a little bit longer.

It made perfect sense to me, that is until we went to that Kindermusik class.

No comments:

Post a Comment