It has been a question in my mind since he was about six months old. He was a very colicky baby. He only slept about 20 minutes at a time, day and night – and only when I was carrying him. He had the biggest frown of any baby I had known, and if I wasn’t looking at him in the moment, it would come out as a wail that could be heard at the other end of the apartment building.
He cried. A lot.
And if it hadn’t been for the trick that the nurses taught me when he was born, of having him such on my finger, that crying might have got me in a lot of trouble. So since I had to walk with him anyway, and since his dad would have been very upset with the crying, I did walk – for six hours every day.
At night I held him and rocked, trying to get some semblance of sleep, though it was never deep. At least I could sleep on Saturdays, which we spent at my mother’s house.
Although it seemed like it, he didn’t cry all the time. Sometimes he growled. Sometimes he cooed. But always, he made some noise. And then around six months, he stopped. He didn’t stop crying, and he still didn’t sleep. That was still quite bad. But for months he didn’t often make noise, and I wondered about Autism.
He started talking at 13 months, and around the same time, started taking afternoon naps that would last about an hour (thank you!) He still didn’t sleep through the night, but at least I could get some sleep. By 18 months, he had a vocabulary of 1,000 words (I wrote them down on the fridge as he spoke them.)
Toilet trained at 20 months, because he hated being dirty… and I mean hated! If he got a drop of milk on his hand, he would scream until I cleaned him… which also meant he refused to wear diapers. He was fully trained day and night in 5 days. However, much as he hated being dirty, he hated bathing even more.
From birth until he was around 10 years old, he screamed every time he had to have a bath. After that, he just refused most of the time. He hated having his teeth brushed as much. It wasn’t until after he turned seventeen (years, not months) that he started brushing once a day (he still refuses to do it more.) It was only this year (age nineteen) that he started bathing regularly – and that is about twice a week, unless he is going out (which he rarely does.)
By twenty one months, he knew the alphabet, could tell me the letters when I showed them to him on his puzzle, knew many colours and shapes, and could even tell me the sounds the letters made.
At the age of two, he put together his first regular puzzle – all alone – as I was washing dishes. It had 48 pieces. After that, he put them together one after another, as if his life depended on it. When his daycare told him he was too young to have the puzzles, he would come home, make them, then take them apart and flip them over to make them again upside down.
Prior to his third birthday, he started yelling at me for not having taught him how to read yet – but I was in school at the time, and we were away from home for twelve hours a day… speaking of which, leaving him at daycare was torture as he clung to me, screaming, “don’t let me go, mommy!”
He taught himself to read at the age of four, and within a couple of weeks, was reading novels. At the end of his Kindergarten year (in which he was homeschooled) he tested at a grade 3 level. In third grade, he tested on the 99th percentile for the Canadian Achievement tests.
For all of his school years, he refused to go – so aside from a 2 week failed trial in Kindergarten, he was homeschooled for all of his school years. Brilliant as he was, he has yet to graduate. He does not care what other people expect from him… and to be honest, if it is expected, he is less likely to do it.
He frequently spends months without ever leaving our property, and for several years, his only friends are online.
Finally, I had him go for his Autism assessment last Wednesday – about six weeks before his twentieth birthday. The diagnosis was confirmed. He has mild Autism – or Aspergers. Yet despite how strange his life looks from the outside, he is content. The psychiatrist found no evidence that he is depressed, needs medication, or needs to be monitored by a psychiatrist in the future.
It is good news! It only took us 19 years to get here.