|Mason at 16 months doing what he loved best, going for a stroll|
around the block.
Mason had a few words he used by one year. He said "mama", "dada", "ball", "book", all the usual words little ones start to utter at that time. He seemed pretty typical; just a quiet, easy-going baby.
Then, it all just... stopped. He stopped using those words and said "gah" for everything. He pointed though--he pointed as he said "gah", so it couldn't be, ya know, that. He looks me in the eye. He smiles. He's too loving. It can't be that.
But he'd never actually play with toys, though; he'd play with parts of toys for hours. He hand-flapped. He'd run crying from other kids and would rather walk around the block with me than play at the park. He'd scream when family came to visit. He showed interest in things like speed limit signs and would want to walk to the one by our house and just "stim" in front of it as long as we'd let him. He barely spoke. In fact, he didn't utter another single word until 2 1/2 years old.
Looking back, it is so painfully obvious. But we'd ask family and friends' opinions and they'd all assure us he was fine. Our pediatrician was also ready to discount any concerns we had, because well, he was just "too sweet" and "too smart". We believed all of that, probably because we wanted to. We were happy with the "quirky" label.
Everything changed when Mason started school though. There was no denying he was not a neurotypical child. There was no denying he was struggling and needed help. It got to the point where his teacher would actually call me at home when he was absent to make sure he was really absent and didn't just wander from the bus on the way to class.
I finally demanded our pediatrician send out a referral for an evaluation. We had that long awaited evaluation this past Friday, and the results were as I long suspected. That "something" has a name.
Mason has autism.
Just typing those words is strange. It's strange because I knew it all along. I guess it's like now all of his struggles and differences are finally being recognized and I am not just an overprotective mother "reading into everything". Everything makes sense now.
As I looked at him though the one-way mirror last Friday, I couldn't help but feel guilty. There he sat in that room with two strangers, answering their questions and doing their puzzles like some rat in a science lab. It was difficult to see him struggle like that. I was a fly on the wall for the first time; how often do you get to observe your child through a one-way mirror? It really dawned on me then how much he struggles socially, and I just felt sad for him. People can be so cruel, and he has a long life ahead of him--one where he'll one day have to navigate all on his own.
Nothing has changed though. I don't feel any less love for him; he is who he is. The only thing that has changed is that there is a socially recognized name for his behaviors, and most importantly, now we can get him help. He is still Mason. He is still my beautiful son.