How Did You Know?

Posted 03-11-2010 at 09:38 PM by MinnieBees

This is the most common question I get asked when someone learns that my son has autism. “How did you know?” The pat answer is that he was presented with a severe language delay at 18 months. But, like all issues with children, the real answer isn’t as easy as that.

Most parents worry about autism. They hear the news reports about the “Autism Epidemic” and they read about anguished parents desperately searching for a cure. And most parents want to know the same thing. How do I know if my child has autism? One way to find out is go to the source; the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. The DSM lists out the diagnostic criteria for all psychological and behavioral disorders. You can see their criteria for autism here: If your child seems to fit the criteria, then talk to your Pediatrician or call Early Intervention (the AAP has recently added a screening test to the 18 month visit called the M-CHAT). But, sometimes all that psycho speak is hard to understand. Like, what is stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language anyway? It’s like you need a B.S. in Psychology just to read the thing.

For us, and my son, it was a slow awakening. He had amazing abilities, like stacking and sorting far above his age. He had a photographic memory, and he got upset if anything was out of place in the house. He never looked at my face. We thought he was deaf, because he was completely unresponsive. He never played with or looked at his big sister. He never lost a toy. He would only eat food that was round. He was happiest when he was in his crib, alone. That one really stood out to me, because our older daughter stayed in our bed until she was a preschooler.

So, where is the line between typical toddler behavior, and autism? Every parent who has a toddler knows they are just a little bit crazy. It’s part of the charm of the “terrible two’s.” Some kids will only wear yellow. Some kids scream hysterically every time they see a cow. Some kids end every sentence with “RIGHT NOW!!” Thankfully, those kids are my sister’s and not mine, which is what I am thinking every time I’ve sugared up my niece and nephews (whom I love to pieces) and sent them packing to their mama. But those are all typical behaviors, and autistic behaviors are so extreme that they keep the child from learning and doing other things, such as playing a family game. If your child doesn’t try to communicate with you, spends a lot of time alone or playing the same thing for hours, then you may have cause to be concerned. However, autism isn’t the end of the world and I’ve always considered myself to be very blessed to be the mother of my autistic son.

Filed Under: Mommy Talk


7 Responses to “How Did You Know?”

  1. whitneywalters on March 17th, 2010 2:12 am

    Great post!!

  2. carazoe on March 17th, 2010 6:20 pm

    Well said!

  3. Paisleesmomma on March 17th, 2010 11:21 pm

    sounds like you have come to peace with it and that’s great! I have worked with kids on the spectrum for almost 5 years doing autism therapies (in home) ABA and RDI.

    It is cool to see the difference in older more seasoned parents who have been through it with the school systems etc.

    I can imagine and have witnessed the demanding role you have to fill. I have learned a lot from the great moms I have worked with and only hope to carry some of their parenting skills they have had to adapt with my own daughter.

  4. Powersmom on March 19th, 2010 3:06 pm

    Excellent post mama! He is absolutely adorable by the way!

  5. penelope picklebottom on March 20th, 2010 5:25 pm

    What a great post, especially the last sentence. Your son is equally blessed to have such a wonderful mother.

  6. bella1021 on March 22nd, 2010 5:57 pm

    beautiful :)

  7. 3Monkies on March 26th, 2010 7:51 pm

    Wonderfully said! Our son almost 8, also has Autism. It is a blessing to meet the many families/providors/therapist/etc. in this community called Autism.

    Sometimes a challenging life, but always a blessed life. We too have a child with Autism.
    He is almost 8, and I have to say meeting the many wonderfull people in this community is a blessing which may have never happened without this diagnosis. I am greatfull for caring people like yourself who get the word out about Autism, THANK YOU! Love The Houcks

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