My son Samuel was diagnosed with autism at 28 months old. He was mostly non-verbal, except for when he scripted his favorite movie lines or spelled out letters he saw on signs. He had no meaningful communication and he screamed a lot. He repeatedly banged his head on the floor when he had meltdowns. He slowly cut back on the foods he willingly ate until eventually, he only ate goldfish and applesauce. He screamed in people’s faces when they greeted him at church. He had very little eye contact. He didn’t follow simple directions or listen to me when I told him to “come here.” He lined up his toys and would scream if they fell over or if he could not get them to stand exactly where he wanted them.
Sam is nine years old now. He is mainstreamed into his 4th grade class at school. He just graduated out of group speech therapy. He is very verbal. Sometimes, a little too verbal. He has meaningful communication. He can tell me what he wants and he can use manners to do it (though whether or not he uses them is a different issue altogether.) He uses sarcasm and tells jokes. He yells at his brothers and tries to tell them what to do. He can maintain eye contact for longer than two seconds. He is mostly able to respond appropriately to people when they greet him at church – at least he doesn’t scream in their faces anymore. He eats just about every fruit known to man and has a broader palate than his 7-yr old brother who is not on the spectrum, but still only has three foods he willingly eats. He follows simple directions and obeys me about as often as my typical 11-yr old son. He is now what most people would consider “high functioning” on the autism spectrum. He has come so far.
Yet, sometimes I actually feel guilty about his progress.
Keep reading at my writing home for today at Special Needs Parenting: High Functioning Guilt.