I remember the day my son was born as if it were yesterday. The first thing I noticed about him were his clear, sparkling eyes. Little did I know then that they would show us a whole new way of looking at things.
I wouldn’t say my son was a fussy baby, because he was a happy baby, as long as you took care of certain things. He was very sensitive to sound and couldn’t stand loud sounds. We had to be careful not to make loud sounds around him in order to not distress him. We also had to be very quiet when he was asleep in order to not wake him up. He was very sensitive to texture and couldn’t bear certain textures. We had to put him in soft cotton clothes because he was only comfortable in those. He was very sensitive to temperature and couldn’t tolerate hot or cold temperatures. We had to make sure everything was at room temperature, be it his milk or his bath water.
All his developmental milestones were slightly delayed but not enough to cause concern. It wasn’t until he had turned two and was still not talking in sentences that I began to have a niggling feeling at the back of my mind. My son would convey his needs to us using hand gestures and single words like hungry, thirsty, sleepy, tired, sick, but nothing beyond that. He wouldn’t call us but would tug at our hands or legs or clothes to get our attention. He wouldn’t respond to us when we asked him questions. He wouldn’t turn his head or look at us when we called his name. It was like he hadn’t heard us. He would be in his own world most of the time. We didn’t think much of it, except that he was quiet and introverted, because he was happy by himself.
It was when he started preschool that everything came to a head. He had severe separation anxiety during the first few weeks. When he finally got used to being in school, he would sit by himself in the classroom and not interact with the other children. When the noise level in the classroom increased, he would cover his ears and scream. When the other children came near him, he would panic and hit them. After about a month of this, we got a call from school asking us to come and meet the principal. The principal sat us in her room and related what was going on with our son at school and advised us to take him to see a child psychologist regarding his behavior.
The wait in the child psychologist’s office was excruciating. The psychologist took our son into another room and put him through some tests. After what seemed like forever, she asked us to come in and told us that our son had autism.
Originally published on Rainbow in the Clouds