I shared this picture of Cooper on Instagram this morning.
Since I posted it I’ve received 15 messages from other parents saying they noticed the same obsession with their babies.
He is probably 16 months or so if I had to guess. I remember his TV obsession started at 9 months. He’d stare at television for hours. It was the only thing that calmed him down.
Looking back, knowing what I know now, this can be a sure sign of autism. Cooper is a sensory seeker. He craves noises, stimulation, numerous devices at one time, colors, textures. etc. The list goes on.
He watched tv shows before he could walk. Wheel of Fortune, Barney, Thomas and Elmo. I remember thinking…. I am so lucky. My child can be calmed so easily. He can relax and watch tv. I was secretly thankful he didn’t need to be played with constantly or need interactions. I could work from home. I could do other things.
For a short time I thought I was blessed. Then wham.
I have a few memories of living in a rental house in Two Harbors. We were poor and couldn’t afford any version of cable so we just had local programming. And being up norht that was probably 3 or 4 channels. At the time, not sure if it’s the same now, local tv would shut off in the middle of the night and wouldn’t resume until 5 am. The first show to come on was Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood on PBS.
Cooper would be awake all night long. He would scream and cry and would wake up 10 times or more a night. At least twice a night he would cry so hard he vomited. He wrecked the carpet and all of his crib bedding. The doctor said he was fine. Just fussy. Just a bad sleeper
I remember so many nights sitting in our living room, rocking him ferociously until PBS kicked on at 5 am. Mr. Rodgers smiling face kept me from losing it. Funny how I remember that. I even told that story when I interviewed with PBS.
When we moved out of that rental Cooper was 12 months old. It was a very, very low point in my life. I knew my baby was different. I knew there was something wrong. And no one believed me. He was so cute. He looked so normal.
He was just learning to walk. I remember we moved every single item out of the rental but the television and entertainment center holding it. We kept it because Cooper was glued to the TV watching Elmo. He would hold himself up and stare.
All those memories came flooding back today as I scrolled through my Shutterfly account. So many emotions.
When I hear new parents say they wish there babies would just watch tv for a minute I secretly feel ill to my stomach. I understand wanting the break. I get it. But then I found out why.
What are the first signs of autism you noticed? For us, Cooper always waved. Made eye contact. Pointed. He never cared about having his nails cut. Or tags on his shirt. Never minded baths. Or grass. Or sand.
Ours were sleep difficulties, eating struggles, lack of imaginative play, and every aspect of language development.
He sure was a cutie though.