I realized the other night that the second anniversary of what we’ve called Diagnosis Day is upon us. On that gray, March day two years ago, the doctor said the words “diagnosis of autism”, and we jumped down the rabbit hole into this grand adventure. It’s hard to comprehend how far we’ve come in those two years.
But really it started long before that. The J-Man began feeding therapy at 9 months old. We had an evaluation just before that through our county’s child developmental services agency because he was showing significant sensory aversions not only to food but to all sorts of other things. He seemed ill at ease with many things around him. Something just didn’t feel right to us.
The evaluators referred us to a feeding therapist, and off we went on a road of diverse therapies that’s run the gamut of acronyms and has continued ever since. A little over a year-and-a-half after we started that first feeding therapy, we took the on-ramp onto the autism highway, and here we are.
Dale Jr. is now about 10 1/2 months old. It has been like learning how to parent all over again. He eats everything in the house; there’s almost nothing we give him that he won’t eat. We still catch ourselves being completely amazed by how well he eats. He even self-feeds finger foods. He mimics us, uses a few words and signs a little bit, intentionally asks for some things, and shares his interests with us. He’s proving to be quite a daredevil, he explores everything, and he wants to be the life of the party wherever he goes.
We’ve noted many times how very different they are. It’s a wonderful thing to have two such complex, wonderful, and unique little people in our house!
And he’s about the age we started the J-Man in therapy. This fact isn’t lost on us. We are so programmed at this point to look at every part of our day in terms of the therapeutic that we sort of don’t know what to do when things are just moving along fine with one or both of the boys.
I realized that we’ve been at this a while when I praised the baby for his skillful bilateral coordination and object transference and developing his pincer grasp so rapidly (which is wonderfully useful as he eats Cherrios on his own while we do kitchen chores). I have no idea most times whether he developed any of these or other skills ‘on time’ or not, though from a few years of therapies I know the technical names of many of them.
The term ‘developmentally appropriate’ is usually lost on us. I’m not sure we’d know it if it bit us. Perhaps we’re becoming more at home with the mystery of it all. Our two boys have changed us in very different ways, and we know we have more mysteries still ahead of us than we do behind us.
As they say, “‘Normal’ is just a dryer setting.” We get the privilege of experiencing a completely new parenting adventure, and we have two wise little teachers who will help us learn and value all the diverse and beautiful gifts that make us human. The J-Man does things that boggle our mind. He’s only beginning to manifest many of his incredible gifts, but he has already changed the lives of so many for the good, especially ours. And Dale Jr. is quickly following him down that path.
We have two boys who share perhaps the most important gifts of all. They are loving and kind, they brighten every room they enter, and everyone who meets them loves them immediately. Regardless of where the adventure takes us next, we start from this foundation, from which anything is possible.