I can’t stop sobbing as I write this. I’m beyond terrified. I don’t understand how this thing could be possible in our family. Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder are things that happen to other families. Not mine. Not to two parents who are both tested as geniuses. This isn’t supposed to happen to us.
Things have been getting worse and worse with Norton since Christmas. His behavior has been getting increasingly difficult. It’s been agonizing to watch his behavior be like it is. And I see my friends who post about their normal children and I’m just so… crushed. I’m angry because our son doesn’t do those things. I’m terrified because I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know what any of this means. I’m jealous because I want those touching sibling moments for my children. And I hate myself for being so envious of my friends.
I try researching and I read about children exhibiting some of the same behaviors as Norton, like the echolalia and lack of interest in his peers. We don’t have a diagnosis… just lots and lots of suggestions from child development professionals that indicate that we need to have Norton assessed.
I don’t want the assessment. I try to say that there’s nothing wrong with my son. He’s perfectly perfect. But with the constipation issues and the potty training issues… The temper tantrums that can last for hours over the slightest thing… That two months ago he was completely dressing himself, right down to his socks and shoes, only to now need to be forced into wearing anything.
I can’t deny that something is wrong. The entire family is feeling the strain. My daughter, my sweet little girl, is trying so hard to cheer me up or distract me by closing my laptop whenever I start to cry. Or she hands me a book. Norton comes in and gives me a hug while saying, “It’s okay, Mommy.” He looks at me and asks “Are you hurt?”
I’d love to think that he’s showing compassion. But I can’t help but wonder how much of this is just the echolalia because those are the kinds of things that I say to him when he cries.
My husband is feeling the stress of the volatile household. I’m stressed out and depressed. I end each day feeling like I’ve been in some kind of POW camp, suffering from the psychological and physical abuse from my child while trying to keep my cool. Even the dogs are acting out. T’akaya the wonderful, brilliant border collie has taken to spite peeing in our bedroom whenever we confine her downstairs. And we were doing so for her own protection.
I don’t want our son to have autism. I don’t want to have to lower my expectations. I thought he was going to have a wonderful, bright future in a professional field. I thought he would be able to care for us when we’re old. Now I find myself wondering what’s going to happen to him after we’re gone. What next?
Then I read things that suggest that autism often shows up with lower than average IQs… and my son is smart. That can’t be my son. Not when he figures out mechanics so smoothly, so easily. The worst part of my son being anything other than “neurotypical” is the possibility that he might not be the smart kid.
I read things about how children on the spectrum have muscle tone or coordination issues. Norton does not. He is actually extremely coordinated. He doesn’t fall over. He doesn’t have muscle tone issues or move differently. With the cognitive issues, he doesn’t display pronoun reversal. He understands that “I” and “me” refer to oneself (although he does frequently refer to himself in third person as “the Norton”) and that “you” is someone else. I think about all of those things that are typical of autism that he doesn’t do and feel marginally better. Not superior, but less panicky about there being something wrong.
Please, please don’t let our son be broken. I can fix hurt feelings and skinned knees. But autism? This is something so far beyond what I know that I’m just lost.