It happens nearly every day…..a post pops up in my Facebook feed with an article on the early signs of autism. I used to read them. I don’t read them anymore.
Little Man was 7 years old when he was diagnosed, and in second grade. That’s kind of late for a diagnosis. And I kick myself frequently for not having him evaluated sooner. Going back and reading things I wrote when he was four and five, sometimes even earlier, I see what it obvious now. I can’t undo what’s done. He was diagnosed, and we have help. I just wish we’d found out much earlier in his life.
I can’t read those articles on the “early signs of autism” because they hurt me. They make me feel like I was an ignorant, naive mother living in the land of denial. In my defense, I tell myself he didn’t have the “typical” signs…he was very verbal from an early age, he was not delayed in any way physically, he didn’t line up his toys. Sure he had meltdowns and threw tantrums. He was a toddler. Nothing really seemed too far out of the ordinary. He seemed stubborn and too smart for his own good. It was only as he got older and the discrepancy between his social and emotional skills and those of his peers grew that we began to see. It was as he grew older and more rigid, we knew something wasn’t right. It was only as his meltdowns continued, his sensory issues grew, his need for order and structure became a full-time endeavor, we saw how big his needs were, and began the evaluation process.
So why do I still beat myself up? I think that’s just a mother’s prerogative. It’s what we do. We’re so good at laying the guilt upon ourselves. Those articles reinforce the words I hear in my own head of how I failed him. So I don’t read them. They don’t help me. They just make me feel bad.