I read a lot of parenting blogs and often find myself frustrated by some suggestions. Standard things that would work for most children, even with a little individual tweaking, don't work for my son. Garrett doesn't have a lovey that I can use to help calm him. He doesn't point to things he wants or needs and will just have a meltdown. We can't use sign language/hand gestures because he doesn't make eye contact for long enough. At 20 months he is barely able to communicate with us, not because there is anything wrong with him but because he (like his father) has Asperger's Syndrome.
Garrett doesn't communicate because it doesn't occur to him to ask us for things, he just gets them himself. This causes a bit of a problem when he can't figure out a way to get what he wants. He's an amazing problem solver and way ahead of most children his age when it comes to figuring things out. When we had our first meeting with Early Intervention he was playing with his Duplo blocks and dropped one under our sideboard. He laid down on his stomach and realized he couldn't reach the block nor would his head fit under the sideboard. He turned himself around and shimmied his legs underneath and swung them until he knocked the block out. There was no crying, no fussing; he didn't so much as look at me the entire time.
The other end of this can be rough. It took me a month to figure out why Garrett would wake up from his naps screaming and inconsolable. He was hungry. He couldn’t figure out how to get to the food and would just have a meltdown. It was hard on us because we felt like we weren’t meeting his needs.
When I first noticed he was having some delays I contacted Early Intervention and set up and appointment and evaluation. Early Intervention has been a great help. Twice a week he has a group, once a week he gets a home visit and we're even working on getting him a music therapy visit each week.
We’ve gotten a great deal of help from them at home. One of the big things is pictures. We took a bunch of pictures of things around the house, some foods he likes to eat, clothing and places like bed, bath and the diaper changing table. Now before we change him we show him the picture and tell him what it is. If he shows us the apple picture we give him an apple. If he shows us the bedroom picture we take him in to the bedroom. Another big help was making sure to use the same terms, he gets a “cup” and not juice or milk. The other week he started to throw a tantrum and I looked at him and said “cup” while I prepared some juice for him. He settled down and came right over.
I know he’ll start talking in his own time and I’m not worried about that. He’s smart and friendly and chatters to himself and others on a regular basis. He’s comfortable with other people and doesn’t have a melt down when we aren’t in the room (which is great for when we want to leave him with Nana or Bubbe and get some grown up time) and isn’t afraid of new places.
I’ll admit that I love that he’s not like other children. He thinks in such a unique and logical way for toddler that I enjoy seeing what he’ll do next (maybe not when he’s on the table reorganizing my napkins). We’re also lucky because Garrett (again like his father) is very high functioning. He amazes me every day and I’ve learned that it’s ok that he isn’t like neuro-typical kids.
My 2 favorite guys have Autism and I learn so much from my husband and son every day. You can find me over at The Crafting Hobbit where I talk about everything from crafting to green living to parenting and beyond.
If you do think your child may have any sort of developmental delay please contact your Pediatrician and ask for a referral to a Pediatric specialist who can help diagnose your child and give you information on programs available in your area.
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