The Beginning

14 01 2008

My son has Aspergers/PDD-NOS. Before we talk about the now, we have to go back to the beginning.

I knew there was something different about my son since he was an infant. Here are a few things that set off red flags in my head:

  • He had a hard time making eye contact; in fact, he struggled with eye contact. He was always looking up towards the ceiling and not in our eyes. I used to joke with him about it, telling him that he was seeing angels. For a time we thought there was something wrong with his neck and that’s why he had his gaze to the sky most of the time. I would often hold his head in my hands and tell him to look at me. He would get uncomfortable, try his hardest to get out of my grip and would look anywhere except for my eyes. As he grew, he established more eye contact but still has difficulty maintaining it.
  • He never reached out for me. Ever. This was the hardest, as a mother, to deal with.
  • He didn’t learn how to wave goodbye until he was around four years old.
  • Sometimes, if I was tickling his back, he would tell me it hurt.
  • The tags on his clothes bothered him so much, I would have to cut them off.
  • He was obsessed with our ceiling fans.
  • He was obsessed with opening and closing doors. On everything. It got so bad that I had to remove the glass doors of our entertainment center because I was fearful that he would break them.
  • At around 1, a friend of mine gave him a big toy truck. He was more obsessed with the wheels than actually riding the truck. He would sit there for long periods of time just spinning its wheels.
  • He had to take something with him from the house whenever I took him out. Usually it was a onesie. If he forgot to take something with him, he would grab a coin and from the car and bring that with him into the store.
  • He would thrash his head against our tiled floor when angry, upset or frustrated. Sometimes he would bang his head repeatedly on the tiled floor.
  • By the time he was 2, he knew his ABC’s, could count to 20, and knew all shapes including the difficult ones like hexagon, pentagon, octogon, trapezoid. He also knew all car models, store names and logos. By 4 he knew every type of whale and dolphin in existence.
  • He had horrible night terrors and would often wake up screaming bloody murder.
  • Unlike most children, he hated going to birthday parties. He would stand close to me and not participate at all.
  • At around 3 or 4, he developed this habit of taking a tissue (Kleenex), wrapping it around his finger and letting part of it hang down and would constantly twist his hand and say they were girls. He still does this, especially when nervous.
  • Flapping hands/arms.
  • He was (and still is) obsessed with lining things up. It started with lining up all of the lotion bottles in the house. They weren’t just lined up, but perfectly in that the label had to be facing the front. If you disrupted any line-up, he would have a major tantrum.
  • At 3 he built complex structures out of blocks. Again, if was disrupted, he would have a meltdown.
  • At 5 he created a continent named Gibbera, with countries, in his imagination. In Gibbera, they spoke Gibberish, a language he created on his own.
  • Sometimes he wrongly associated words for objects. “Sion” meant chili pepper. “Cash” meant cinnamon bun. “Babasheep” (Baa Baa Black Sheep) meant the symbol for ocean waves. (Each word has its own story behind it which will be discussed later.)

This list will grow but I wanted to point out the major factors that sent up red flags for me as a parent. I suppose the biggest were lack of eye contact, self injury and lining up objects.

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