Earlier this year our family all came down with the flu. I was disappointed since I normally never get the flu and we all got the flu shots, but this year was just bad luck for the flu shots not working. Ever since we got the flu our youngest son has been acting strangely. At first we just assumed he had some post flu grumpiness or that he wasn't feeling all the way better yet. But the behaviors never went away. He became very clingy, wanting to be held by his mommy all the time. He wouldn't even let me pick him up for a while. He might ask me to pick him up, but the moment I tried to lift him he'd squirm away and go running for mommy as if he were frightened. His behaviour became ritualistic and very concerned with things being the "right way." He developed phobias of pooping in the bathtub (to the point where he didn't want to take baths) and of bees (to the point where he didn't want to go outside). Finally we called the pediatrician and had a basic evaluation appointment. The doctor thinks that either he has just had a regression event into autism or some kind of anxiety class disorder has just popped out of the blue on us. His speech abilities seem unaffected and we don't know whether his socializing abilities are affected yet because he won't go outside to play with other kids these days because of his new found fear of bees. Without knowing if his social behaviors have changed, the doctor isn't sure whether its an anxiety disorder like OCD or if he is autistic like his older brother. We have a family history for both classes of disorders, so either are possibilities at this point.
I'm not sure what to think or feel about the possibility that I might have passed on being on the autistic spectrum to both of my children. We always knew there was a possibility of this happening, but Taliesin had always seemed like the obvious one where that was playing out- missing communication milestones, ritualistic, shy, and very rule based from the beginning. Lionel was always the easy going communicative one who wasn't shy of anyone. It's painful to see the easy going nature suddenly disappear in favor of a very ritualistic and anxious one where Lionel painfully afraid of situations and things he used to enjoy very much. Hopefully we can remedy much of that with proper intervention.
The narrative that autism is a state of merely being different rather than broken is easier to accept when the traits simply grow organically in place as the way things have always been. Its easier to accept it that way. You can't imagine things having been different. But when things were different and become decidedly worse in very specific ways over a short period of time, you can imagine both ways. It hurts more. It doesn't make it any less part of the person that you love, but you feel a bigger need to fix it. Striking a balance between providing opportunities for many things in life to not be as hard for him and providing acceptance and a compelling narrative of self worth is difficult at best. We don't know what the future will hold, but at least we know to be looking to know what we can do to help. Life could be easier and I wish so many hard things didn't happen so close together. But that's life...
5 months ago