When you google signs of autism…or talk to someone about autism….you typically hear the same signs. Lack of eye contact. Lack of affection. Withdrawn behaviors. Social delays. Cognitive delays. Playing with toys in odd manners. And the list goes on.
When I used to ‘think’ about autism I would think of a really withdrawn child. I would think of a kiddo that didn’t hug or give love. And that wasn’t Cooper. So I told myself it wasn’t autism. I would lay in bed at night and mentally tick of the things he did and didn’t do. I would spend hours. I would even make lists of the traits he had and the traits he didn’t have.
I was very naïve. And exhausted.
And I remember doing those Well Child questionnaires at the Pediatrician. You know what’s funny….Cooper was so wild and out of control in the waiting room that I NEVER got to actually complete one of those. I would start, struggle to write, chase Cooper, stress out, and AVOID completing it. Vicious cycle of avoidance.
Don’t get me wrong…I mentioned ALL of my concerns to my pediatrician. But, Cooper didn’t have the tell tale signs and she would just say he was strong willed.
I didn’t know that I could have an autistic child that WAS very loving, but nonverbal, that made eye contact, but didn’t know how to play with toys, and struggled with transitions and didn’t care about making friends or his brother but loves his mom and dad.
I would throw around words like ‘strong willed,’ ‘late talker,’ ‘challenged.’ But around 2 1/2 those words started to not sound right. The older Cooper got the less I could hide the delays and make excuses.
But through it all the eye contact stayed constant. He has never, ever struggled with making eye contact with an adult. He checks in for validation, affection and even to get a reaction. But what I didn’t see is that he did not make eye contact with other children.
That damn eye contact threw a lot of people off in the diagnosis process.
So, if you were to ask me….How did I know Cooper was autistic? Or when? I would say that deep down I knew it from day one. I knew something was off. But, I didn’t know what. And I didn’t know what to do or how to fix it.
Here is a video of Super Cooper from yesterday morning. Every morning is the BEST MORNING OF HIS LIFE. He smiles. And giggles. And gives huge hugs and kisses. I’ve always wanted to get his morning happiness on camera. He is such a love.