Not sure if this blog will take off or not, but for now I’ll use it somewhat like a diary to keep track of my son, whom I’ll call Buddy only partially because he looks like a blonde My Buddy doll.
When I became pregnant with him, there was quite a bit that I did not know. I didn’t know that I had Asperger’s Syndrome, that my other son had it, that my baby would be autistic, or that he would weigh close to 12lbs at birth. No, that isn’t a typo — twelve pounds. I had him naturally. You may post your admiration below.
Buddy was a long pregnancy; he was two weeks overdue. My belly had grown so large that I had trouble carrying him, and I was on bedrest for a while. The ultrasound tech warned me he could reach ten pounds. Since all of my siblings were around nine and my first child was as well, I wasn’t worried. I am so thankful I had no idea how big he would be.
He was mostly a water birth. I had been so hot during labor that a bath sounded like a wonderful idea. I almost kissed my OB/GYN when she suggested it. I stripped down, got into the tub, and was amazed at how much pain it took away. There was no way I was ever going to get out of the wonderful, magical tub. Unfortunately, the baby had pooped. The greatest risk in a water birth is if the baby pooped, he could inhale it when he came out. I knew a friend who lost her baby that way; I had to get out of the water. This first poop adventure was the first of so very many to come.
He was born with less than twenty minutes of pushing. He was immediately dubbed “The Sumo Baby” and all the staff came to see him. I adored him, even if he never stopped nursing. No, I don’t mean it seemed like he didn’t stop; he didn’t stop. I would remove him long enough to change his diaper or if he wanted to sleep, but he would often wake up hungry. You could hear his stomach growling. After just three months, I had to put him on baby food. He inhaled it and finally started sleeping longer.
Trying to be a good mother, I had been worried about all the fear surrounding vaccines and Autism, so I refused to vaccinate my son. It turns out, it didn’t matter.
My first clue as to what life would be like — other than his first poop and constant eating — was the day he first stood up. I ran to get the camera, leaving him in a room with nothing but a TV that sat on the floor, the couch, and a bookshelf. As I jumped back over the baby gate into the room, I couldn’t believe what I didn’t see — my son was gone. Where can a baby go if there’s nowhere for him to go? I looked anyway, spinning in circles, baffled, until I heard a tiny snore. I looked up — yes, up — and discovered he was on the top shelf. I was shocked and quickly took him down.
Ever since then, I have not been able to prevent him from climbing. He climbs everything to the point that it no longer bothers me. He quickly learned that it was faster to jump than to climb down, and I quickly learned that he couldn’t be hurt. I once watched him fall down a hill and smack his face on the pavement. He stood up, wiped his nose, and kept going.
The first time my mother watched him while I ran an errand, I informed her that he would be covered in bruises, especially on his shins, but that no one hurt him. When I picked him up later that day, she was wide-eyed and repeated it back to me; she hadn’t hurt him, but he was covered in bruises, especially on his shins. I had tried to warn her.
As he got older, he became more difficult to understand. He didn’t like to play with toys; he just wanted to line them up over and over. He sometimes sorted things by color, even though he wasn’t old enough to say the words for any colors. His favorite thing to do would be to line up his colored blocks in a perfectly straight line along the windowsill. He cried if I bumped any or if his brother moved one.
My oldest son was reading at age three. At age five, his favorite books where the Chronicles of Narnia, and he tested at college reading level. He often told elaborate stories and drew pictures for them. Buddy, on the other hand, didn’t like to color or draw, he didn’t really talk, and he couldn’t seem to understand me half the time. While his brother was playing Monopoly (he beat me the first time we played, and I had never lost before), Buddy can’t remember “1,2,3.”
I had sworn that I would never compare my children, but when he turned three, I began to feel that something was different. When his brother got diagnosed with Asperger’s, leading to my discovery that I, too, am an Aspie (which explains so very much of my struggles growing up!), I began to look into the difference between Autism and Asperger’s. I found that if I divided them into two categories, my oldest son fit one description, and Buddy fit the other. In fact, Buddy fit it perfectly.
I went on Facebook and joined groups. I got advice from parents with autistic children and put their advice to work. The difference in Buddy was like night and day. Before, he would throw tantrums in the store, throwing things from the shelves, ripping his books at home, clapping his hands over his ears and screaming. Now, I see him having a meltdown, because he couldn’t communicate or because there was too much noise for him to filter. Before, I hesitated to take him anywhere. Now, we just went to Disney (which will be another post) and had a successful trip. Before, I felt like a bad mother, that I couldn’t get my son to behave. Now, people who stare and judge can go take a hike.
We recently went to the Dallas Museum of Art’s Autism Day, and a group there offered to help with speech and occupational therapy. I call tomorrow to look into it.
Buddy just turned four. He still can’t count to three or tell me the letter I’ve pointed at every day for ten months is the letter A, but he can climb anything, eat nonstop (we literally had to lock all of the food, even flour, in a closet), take things apart, and have more energy then probably everyone I’ve ever known combined. But those are stories for another time.
That’s Buddy, and this is his story.