It was almost two years ago, when I had the distinct gut feeling that something was wrong with the Mini. His development was both typical and atypical. He hit a lot of his milestones early or on time. He laughed at an appropriate age. I could make him laugh, although, it could take a bit of cajoling on my part. Truthfully, the Meester made him laugh easier than I did, but he wasn’t the type of kid that didn’t smile or laugh. He walked on the earlier side, something I’m still impatiently waiting for my daughter to do already, because at nearly 25lbs, my arms are going numb. He was social in his own way.
His atypical development was the fact that he could entertain himself for long periods of time. Part of this is genetic. The Meester was largely the same way. He loved to spin things, something that I knew wasn’t normal. Once he hit 15 months, at his sickest, he would pace or just bolt. You put him down and forget it, there was no getting his attention or getting him to listen. He would.just.run. This was so anxiety provoking and exhausting for me. People would watch him and ask me if I was exhausted. I wanted to say “helllooooooooooooo stupid, what do you think?” Then there was the language. He mimicked some words, but had no real desire to communicate with us, either via pointing or babbling. I remember at 15 months, waiting every day for this so-called language explosion, and it never happening.
Once he started services, we had the new and improved Mini. He’s steadily, and slowly made gains. At three, he has tons of words. He knows his alphabet and has for a long time. Something I didn’t teach him. This is just the way his brain works. He absorbs things like a sponge. His memory for things is insane. He speaks very clear for his age. I rarely have a hard time understanding his language, unlike some of his friends of the same age. But his spontaneous language is behind that of his peers.
It’s been close to a week that we’ve gotten our diagnosis. My first reaction was relief, quickly followed by guns blazing. We’re going to help him. We’re going to do whatever it takes to give him the best there is to offer. Then it switched to despair. What if he’s never going to get better? What if he spends his whole life trying to communicate and all he can do is spout off random sentences that are completely irrelevant to the topic? Followed by “get up, Statia. You HAVE to do this. You haven’t ever backed down. You’re not going to stop now. ” The Meester likes to describe our relationship using a microscope metaphor. He looks at things at 10x. I look at things at 400x. We balance each other out this way, but he tells people, “if it weren’t for her, we would not be where we are today.” Sometimes my 400x is a detriment. It causes me to unnecessarily freak out. Sometimes I have to step back and look at the bigger picture.
The Mini’s preschool teacher is full of the awesome. She was recommended to us by one of his Early Intervention teachers. She has a nephew on the spectrum, so she’s familiar with kids who are “different.” She loves her kids. It’s so obvious. Even given her hot temper at the mercy of stupid people, she remains calm with the kids. I sometimes want to ship the Mini off to her when MY patience is on its last thread. She is fully aware of the Mini’s issues. She calls him “the gray area kid.” The Mini loves his teachers and his class. He wants so badly to be social and he tries in his own way. He has a hard time initiating, but whenever he does, I always get an email. She’ll always send me pictures of him, telling me that he played ball with Stella, or that he played Ring Around the Rosie with Steven. And it’s those little moments. Those moments that make tears well up in my eyes. Knowing that he wants that social interaction, but isn’t quite sure how to put it together. That right there is me looking at 10x
It’s those moments that tell me that deep down, everything is going to be OK.