Thursday, February 4, 2010
Life before autism
Let's face it, autism isn't something that a child shows signs of at birth. It sneaks in and robs a child of their future potential like a thief in the night. Matt was happy. He laughed, he chased the cat, he made eye-contact. He was a healthy, happy little munchkin, and I had no clue how our lives would change in the coming months.
He was born during a blizzard, a month premature, by emergency C-section. The ultrasound showed distress, and upon opening me up the doctor discovered the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, choking him. The quickness of the surgery saved him from the claws of infant death. I had been a very nervous expectant mom because I had lost a child the year before - another boy, premature, also delivered by emergency C-section. I clearly remember telling God I would handle anything if this little boy was allowed to live. Did I set myself up for a test or what?
Matt came home to all the fanfare that newborn babies are greeted with - proud daddy, proud brother, curious pets. His first year pretty uneventful as far as signs or symptoms are concerned. Somewhere after the first year he said "kitty" as he would gleefully chase our cat.
Then, the thief crept in. Small signs at first - avoiding my gaze, "kitty" was never chased again, even the word stopped being uttered. I would find him hiding behind furniture, rocking back and forth. What happened?
Could it have been vaccines? It occurred close to that interval, but the jury is still out on a relationship between vaccines and autism. As a mother, show me an autistic child who has never been vaccinated and I will stop wondering. As a scientist, let's keep looking at all possibilities. For now, I want to avoid that argument because this is his story and his successes and blame has no place here.
My son stopped communicating verbally and began communicating with gesture. If you have an autistic child, then you know what I mean.
My "test" had begun.