My youngest daughter was diagnosed as autistic (Asperger’s) when she was 4. Looking back, I know now that my oldest daughter and I, myself, are also autistic.
The difference is that Saari has undergone a plethora of treatments and therapies starting when she was 20mo old and we realized she’d gone from speaking a half-dozen words when she was 9mo old (“Do-ah” = door, “Buh!” = something flying overhead because of course she can’t tell the difference between a plane and a bird, “Dodo” = finger, mama, dada, “num-num” = “I want to eat that!”, and “Wado” = drink) to not even saying Mama when she was 13mo old. Even worse, at 20mo of age, she was determined to be “profoundly” delayed, right across the board: fine motor coordination, gross motor coordination, receptive speech, expressive speech, you name it.
Not just the treatments, but the work at home – it was 24/7: working on her speech, working on “be gentle!” with animals and other children (she was so powerful she frequently hurt people and pets), working on acclimatizing her to the strange and unusual (such as stuffed toys – they used to send her into a screaming panic – and fuzzy textures on clothing – ditto).
It also required changing doctors more than once, until I found a doctor that agreed with my belief that medication should be a last resort, not a frontline attack.
Over several years, she underwent multiple blocks of speech therapy and several rounds of occupational therapy until today, at six (nearly seven), I hear it all the time: “Are you sure? She seems fine to me!” – to which, instead of gritting my teeth and suppressing the urge to choke them unconscious, I’m practicing saying “Thank you!” because really, it is gratifying to have one’s efforts acknowledged.
Today, I was looking up the repetition. If you have an autistic child, you probably know what I mean but if you don’t, it’s not just asking questions: it’s asking the exact same question over and over and over again. It’s even asking a question that is blindingly obvious: “It’s raining?” “Yes, it’s raining.” “It’s going to get wet?” “Yes, it’s going to get wet.” “Why is it going to get wet?” “Because it’s raining.” “It’s raining?” and here we go again.
I stumbled across an article about nagging, where an Aspie husband’s mother-in-law revealed to his wife that his incessant nagging drove her crazy. He then explained that growing up in an aspie household, nagging is a necessary part of getting through the day and suddenly a light went on: one thing that drives my daughter’s father crazy is the necessity to keep on at me and on at her in order to get things done.
Seriously: I never realized my absent-mindedness was even related but now I know how he feels and I feel bad.
Not a lot, but a little.