My daughter, Elizabeth, is four years old. She was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of 2½. Things were up in the air from the time she was seventeen months until the diagnosis; I wasn’t sure what was going on and neither were the doctors in her life. It was awful and confusing. Especially after having already been a mom three times before, I was completely unprepared for raising such a different child! I’d thought I had known what I was doing until she came along, lol.
Was it terrible twos?
Was her speech delay just that – a delay?
Or, was there an underlining issue that needed to be addressed?
It wasn’t until she 22 months old that autism was brought up as a possibility. The reason it was so challenging to know early on was because she has something called PDD-NOS, which is on the autism spectrum but isn’t presented as obviously as classic autism is; girls are typically harder to diagnose anyway.
During the months that we waited, I was watching. I was looking at her behavior to find clues. I was reading and learning as much as I could about autism and other neurological differences. I took photos and videos of her all the time to see if I could pinpoint exactly what was happening. I wrote monthly updates on her to document what I was seeing. I became obsessed because I needed to find a way to help her (and our whole family!) and the way I do big things is by throwing everything I have into it!
So, yeah…I watched.
How she lined up toys, how she walked on her tip toes, how she attempted to form words, how she responded to noises and textures, etc.
And here’s the crazy thing – I am still doing it. I am still watching and trying to figure out if she has autism even though I know she does!! I don’t know what this means. I don’t know if it’s a coping measure of mine to continue the process of accepting having such a unique child. Or if I am questioning the diagnosis. Or if it’s just a habit.
But I do it all the time.