I am the mother of three great kids; each is special in a different and wonderful way. My son (the only boy) is autistic and has an Obsessive/Compulsive disorder.
We (my husband, David, and I) have learned that he is perfect at being unpredictable in every way.
My son (Andrew) is four years old. We’ve known he was “different” since shortly after his birth, even before we left the hospital. He cried nonstop, never held down his milk, and slept only a few minutes at a time. While this sounds pretty basic, it was far from basic, he was disconnected, almost foreign to us. I felt like any mom would, I looked at the situation and immediately blamed myself “What if it’s me?” I would ask my husband “What am I doing wrong? Am I messing up here?” And I got the same answer “No, its colic and growing pains is all!” I felt, no scratch that, I knew this was more than colic, and I felt in my core that it had nothing to do with growing pains; he was unlike the first two babies not just in gender but emotionally, mentally and socially.
I noticed subtle signs at first. He would become agitated and jittery if you made eye contact with him. He would stare at the wall or the floor; he would show little to no emotional reaction to play or laughter. I convinced myself that his “quirks” would work themselves out, I told the doctor and, as if she could read the thumps of my heartbeat like Morris code, she gave me the “It’s all going to get better with time” speech, I had so cleverly convinced myself of time and time again. In truth, I was beginning to tear holes in that safety blanket.
Andrew turned one on October 5, 2005; as was expected, we planned a small party for this special day. We were excited to celebrate the completion of our family; Andrew however gave little to no “happy” reactions, and seemed agitated and uncomfortable. We tried to ignore his frustration (maybe he just needed a nap). We were determined to make this special day memorable, and it was, but not in the way we had hoped, he had violent temper tantrums throughout and banged his head into the walls and floor. Needless to say there were no Kodak moments.
After he became aware of the self-injury “advantages,” he began banging his head into whatever was hard and available every time he became agitated. Other than the birthday incident, one such occurrence sits firm in my memory. He was sitting on the floor doing the typical car, wheels, spin routine, when his sisters came running into the house laughing and screaming with excitement over playing chase and making it to base (my coffee table apparently). When Andrew heard this he began to scream, a terrible blood-curdling scream, he then began to beat his head into the floor repeatedly and a new element was introduced he began clawing at his eyes. I watched in horror as my son literally attacked himself, his sisters and I could do nothing we attempted to stop his assault, to no avail. Andrew was determined to vent this frustration and I at the time had no clue what this outburst was about.
Seeing his pediatrician made me feel like a failure the way she acted said “you are the basket case and the problem is in your head.” She told me that it was bipolar disorder (that’s right, barely two and he has “bipolar disorder”) and she prescribed him a heavy anti-psychotics, I gave him his first dose and watched as my son turned into a zombie! He became listless and gave even less response to our attempts at rousing him. I was shocked at the transformation, and not in a good way, so I took him off of this medication and told his doctor that no matter what, I would not place my son on something that lessened his quality of life as these drugs so clearly did. She told me not to plan for a happy outcome.
My husband is responsible honestly for getting our son the help he needed. I worked while he stayed home and made Andrew the center of his life; he took every lead and followed it to the core. He gave our son his future and his voice. Andrew was evaluated by a specialist who determined he was Autistic (not severe, thankfully, he was at the mild to moderate end of the spectrum) after the diagnosis, we were elated, sad, but grateful to finally have some answers. David (my husband) got our son in to special school programs, got him disability, and ensured respite care to keep us sane and to give us a break when we were stretched to our emotional and physical limits. We have learned to go with the flow of what Andrew needs at the moment, never plan too far ahead and expect the unexpected.
I am very happy to report that my son (now four) is in Pre-school for special needs children, he can recite his alphabet, count to twenty-five, name almost all of his colors and shapes, give you his full name, and so on! He is even learning to use scissors and adores painting. He hugs almost everyone he comes into contact with and proclaims his “love” for strangers in the mall that are fortunate enough to be standing in line ahead of us, he even claims his “girlfriend” is the mannequin in Victoria’s secret (sad but true).
He enjoys singing and sings everywhere we go. He loves his Daddy and is so close to him I don’t think he could live without him. Our son still has those self-injury attacks and is hypersensitive to sound. He doesn’t really play with other kids that often if ever (other than his sisters) but he is getting better, reaching out to some and maintaining a smile on his beautiful face. I pray for his future to be full of opportunity, I hope for his happiness and success. I believe my husband gave our son his chance at a beautiful future. I love my husband for that.