This journey with autism has been a real roller coaster ride. Sometimes the ride is fun, and other times I get terrified that the ride won’t stop. It won’t you know, but it does keep changing so you never really know if it’s going to get better on the next turn. Hope keeps you sane when you don’t know what else to do.
Like everything, there are good days and bad days. For instance, I wonder what the neighbors think was going on in our house last night. It was one of those nights when Teghan just wouldn’t go to bed. She wanted to go to bed. She wanted to be in her room, at least. But what she does is run frantically back and forth- screaming, giggling, kicking the door, pounding on the windows, and knocking all of her furniture over. She seems so happy to do this.
The hardest part of this for us is that communication has no effect. I mean, if we tell her to get in bed she will, but she will be cracking up laughing the whole time. She will get up within seconds, and she is like a train that can’t be stopped. The hysterical laughing and screaming are what send us over the edge. And the helplessness. Continue reading
I have written before about the reason we only have one child (you can read that here if you would like). We would like more children, but after it took so long to have Teghan, we figured maybe adoption should be a consideration for our future. I am glad we felt that way, because we are now over five more years without birth control (what a waste of money that was!) and I am thirty-seven years old. I can’t imagine the stress I would have felt if I had been trying to have another baby all this time. I suppose turning thirty-five would have made me a basket case. But luckily, it is just not something that I think about anymore. I accepted those cards long ago. In fact, we have started to feel more pressure about deciding if we want to adopt in the upcoming years. I mean, we aren’t exactly getting any younger.
In spite of all this, somehow we are having a baby.
To be honest, I felt ridiculous even buying a pregnancy test. I thought, “PMS symptoms are probably continuing into week three because I am dying or something.” It seemed more likely at the time. I suppose Dave was just as skeptical. I could have hidden it from him, but I am lazy- and he is the one who puts the groceries away. And I wasted no time taking it, because we didn’t want to be silly and start thinking about it seriously. I’m not going down that road again. Continue reading
I visit the bank at least once a day. The other morning as I walked through the door I was met with the sound of a man talking very loudly- on his phone. He was standing at one of the teller stations, next to a woman who was being helped. He was standing so close to her, I assumed they were together.
I was wrong. That was just where he chose to wait in line. Not in the designated “on deck” spot next to the sign that instructs you to wait for the next available teller to call you. No, that waiting area was for the rest of us.
I couldn’t believe how loud he was speaking into his phone. He was having some kind of business conversation. He wasn’t angry, just loud- and he kept looking around the lobby at the rest of us as if we were all hanging on to his every word (not that we had a choice in the matter). Continue reading
Teghan was less than a year old when she said her first sentences. They were, “I read a book” and “go bye bye in the car?” It was cute the way she kind of stuttered whenever she said “in the.” Then one day she just stopped saying those things.
Sometimes I wonder why she ever did say those things. I mean, she didn’t even say “mama” or “dada” until very recently. She said a few words- like “shoe.” Then she didn’t. By the time she was three years old, we didn’t really think she would ever talk.
She is five now, and her vocabulary has improved. She knows what most things around her are called, and when asked she will make an effort at verbally labeling things. Some words are clearer than others. My husband takes pictures of everything on his phone and quizzes her. It’s interesting to see what words she cannot pronounce (which are most).
Spending time with Teghan, one would be surprised at just how much vocabulary she understands. Her receptive language is far beyond her expressive language. But even so, it remains fairly basic. She understands instruction, but we are a long way from conversational concepts, consequences, or reasoning. She is getting better at determining our meaning with instruction, though. She now knows that when we ask her to open a door or turn on a light that we may be talking about a different door or light than she is used to. She is now willing to change that routine a bit, and follow more specific direction; which means that if we ask her to turn on the light in the living room, she (maybe) won’t run upstairs to turn on the hall light instead. Nothing is obvious to her; it’s just about what she has done before, so watching her work that out is encouraging. Continue reading
Every morning Teghan wakes up happy. She is very vocal in her bedroom, and waits for us to come and get her. When we open the door, she excitedly runs past us. She turns on the hallway light, closes the bathroom door, and jumps into our bed.
She has to turn on that light and shut that door.
When we are in the living room, she needs to have the coffee table open. It’s a tea trunk style coffee table, where both sides open up. She will only allow us to close it if she is eating there, and as soon as she is done it comes right back open again.
The basement door must always remain shut. She will open it very briefly to let the cat down, but that cat needs to move fast. Teghan has little tolerance for an open door.
These behaviors are pretty familiar, really. They remind me of my own childhood OCD- except I was much better at hiding it. It makes me wonder what other rituals are going on in her world. If she brushes up against something with her left arm, does she have to turn and do the same with her right arm- sometimes twice? When we go for walks, does her right foot always have to step over the sidewalk crack first? When she taps on things, is there a designated number of taps that must be achieved each time? When she runs back and forth in her room at bedtime, how many times does she need to touch the wall before she is satisfied? Continue reading