I had a normal pregnancy other than pretty severe sickness which I also had in my other two pregnancies. Austin’s delivery was also unremarkable, it was quick and easy. He was a pretty good baby, though he never did sleep quite as well as our girls did.
The first thing that stuck out to me as a bit different with Austin happened when he was six months old. I had two friends with babies born the same week as Austin, and they both started having separation anxiety when their moms dropped them off in our church nursery. I remember thinking that Austin seemed oblivious to whether I was there or not, but I quickly forgot about it and didn’t think of it again until much later on.
I was a bit concerned that Austin wasn’t babbling at all by the time he was around a year to a year and a half. Of course everyone was quick to reassure me that boys take longer than girls to talk, but it didn’t seem right to me. No sounds, not even dada or mama. I remember repeating uh-oh over and over again trying to get him to repeat it.
I also remember mentioning to his pediatrician that he rocked a lot. He had a bump on his head from rocking in his crib and hitting his head on the side. The pediatrician wasn’t concerned and didn’t seem to want to discuss it.
My lightbulb moment came at my nephew’s first birthday party. Austin was around 21 months old at this point. He was pretty off at the party, he seemed stressed, and I noticed my brother and his wife watching him. I remember thinking “they think something’s wrong with him.”
I noticed later during the party that my brother had sat down directly behind Austin and was calling his name repeatedly and rather loudly. Austin never turned his head or acknowledged my brother. I knew right then something for sure wasn’t right, and for the first time the word autism came to my mind. “What are the symptoms of autism”? I wondered. I didn’t know much about it then, but I just knew.
As soon as I got home I googled the word autism, and there was the answer right in front of me.
We saw a biomedical doctor briefly in those early days and he confirmed that Austin was on the spectrum, moderately autistic.
We’ve since seen neurologists, a developmental pediatrician, and psychiatrist. We’ve done the paperwork with the school district, seen the school psychologist, and all label him as being on the spectrum. It’s more obvious now that he’s 7 anyway.
It’s always an up and down ride with autism, but Austin does well at his school. We’ve been blessed with wonderful ABA and speech therapists, and very supportive families.
Our goal for Austin is simple: we want him to be happy and enjoy this life in his own unique way.