Archive for high needs

Tower of Babbles

Posted in Autism, Motherhood with tags , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2008 by Ms. Ex

My sixteen month old baby B has started babbling!

Doesn’t sound much like news, does it?  But he goes around laughing and talking all the time, and even repeats back to me the words I say to him.  While looking me in the eye.

My four year old E never did these things.  At some point, his trajectory changed.  He did not imitate me, not even my facial expressions, not even as a baby when it should be reflexive.  Except, he did say ‘tractor’ for a short time.  And here  I thought my daughter’s first word was telling.  (Did you say, ‘tattoo’??)

Instead of talking, E walked at ten months.  He conquered steps at twelve.  When he was this creepy, walking baby (you know what I mean – a cute little baby head  should not be on top of a biped.  It’s weird.), he would push a doll stroller around our driveway, rain or shine, heat or cold.  That’s what he wanted to do.  I would read and watch him, or do dishes and look out the window at him, and there he would be.  Pushing. A stroller.  In circles.

My oldest child is twelve years older than the next one, so I hardly rememberbed what it was like to have a baby.  With E, I looked up developmental milestones, and noted that he was way ahead with gross motor skills.  As for the other things, well…we can chalk that up to eccentricity, right?  It’s not as if he doesn’t have a wealth of familial sources.

Then along comes baby B.  Sweet.  Happy.  Smiley!  Baby B.  He sleeps.  He nurses.  Not like a meth head or junkie, but like an infant.  Who can quit whenever he wants.  Really. And round about one year old, I noticed some strange sounds coming from his mouth.  Sounds very much like the ones I was making, with inflection to match.  Now, a few months later, he is a regular chatterbox.  His enunciation could stand improvement, but he talks up a storm! It is a completely different world than it was with E.  It’s fun, we laugh, we interact.  We communicate.

E is considered only mildly autistic and highly functional.  He does talk now, but only to people he knows well, and he doesn’t make much eye contact.  The thing is, he is so high functioning, we might never have pursued any help.  He might never have been given tools to reach his true potential.  People told me all the time, “Oh, boys talk later than girls, you’ll see.  Just wait.”  But something in me knew.  It was more than being late to things  (which he got from me, just so you know),  it was a different path altogether.

So, along with just not taking people’s advice, don’t let them persuade you that you are wrong.  We mothers (especially).  We grew these children inside of us! We released them into the world, provide their nourishment and love and everything they need. If something is niggling at you, or you see something in your little one that concerns you – ask someone about it.  Do research.  And you keep asking the questions until you get an answer you feel confident about.

You must do what will work for each one and for your family as a whole.  And follow your gut.  We are the ones who know our babies and know when something is different or wrong.  And also, when things are just right.


A Family of Autists

Posted in Autism, Motherhood with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2008 by Ms. Ex

“Artistic?  He’s artistic? Well, I guess he gets that from you.”

“No, Mom. I said autistic – they told us he’s autistic. And he has ADHD, but I guess we already knew that.”

“Oh. What, because he has tantrums? He’ll grow out of it, you’ll see. Your brother was like that, he would hold his breath until he turned blue and passed out, and now he’s perfectly…um…well, anyway, I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

And maybe he will be.  Little E of weaponry atop the china cabinet fame. Little E with the big personality, with the adorable quirks, with what looks like a slight touch of sociopathy. My baby, my little guy.

I always say he was different from the very first day he was born. He cried inconsolably. He did not look at me. He never smiled. He would push a baby stroller around our driveway for hours on end, all by himself, no matter how cold or miserable the weather. I’m talking fourteen months old, here. It was the only reprieve I got from the incredibly overwhelming need for touch he had.

I realize that is a different thing for an autistic child, needing touch. But it is not that he’s affectionate, necessarily, but that he’s touching me to fill his own black hole of…something. Craving?

We spent hours with the doctor, his resident (intern? I got confused in the introductions part of the journey today), and his nurse.  I went hoping to finally get some direction, some idea of what E’s issues are, if any.  And I got some direction, some ideas. And some extremely difficult news.

It’s really not as if I didn’t know. I think I have known on some level for a long time, but I also kept believing that I must be wrong. It is so mild, surely it must be something else. Something less…permanent. You see, I went in with this child that, despite the soul-sucking challenges, I have managed to parent fairly well considering our personalities. Mine being obsessive, his being the same about different things. I went in thinking that maybe this crack team of experts would say – “AHA! We know exactly what you need to do to keep E from dislocating the arm of his little brother and giving you another corneal abrasion, while simultaneously convincing him to eat something that is not brown.  Or white.”

I left knowing my son is a hair’s breadth from geniosity (geniusosity? geniousness?), but cannot draw a circle. That he can learn to read, but might not fare well making friends. That my gorgeous, precious, spirited boy is now my gorgeous, precious, spirited, autistic boy.

It is a relief. It is a sentence of some kind. It is the end, the beginning, the middle of long roads ahead. I cry. I stop. I form plans. I research. I cry some more. We mothers, we like to know. But, by the very nature of our jobs, we also sometimes like to play pretend, just a tiny bit longer.

I Need

Posted in Motherhood with tags , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2008 by Ms. Ex

Needs. We all have them. I certainly do, and my children do also, especially E. He has special needs, high needs, extra needs and superfluous needs. His needs buffet my body, my mind, my patience, and suck every bit of energy I might otherwise have had for things like, say, brushing my teeth.

Now, I know the adage about want vs. need, and some of the problem is one of being okay with “good enough” parenting. To survive, a child certainly needs some things – food, water, perhaps clothing and shelter, and even love.  Failure to thrive is a recorded illness, born of neglect.  Babies sometimes die from lack of touch, even when the rest of the necessities are provided for.

But what about those things that seep out from deep inside of us?  Those drives that we can hardly contain, let alone triumph over?  For instance, I need reassurance that I will not be abandoned.  I do not mean an occasional sweet-talk-lite comment about always loving me.  I mean concrete words expressing delusional certainty that nothing will ever cause separation.  In that same way, Ethan needs contact.  He needs skin on skin, no regard for personal space contact of the sort that will suck a person dry over the course of a very short time, like twenty minutes.  I am constantly covered with bruises and have developed an over-responsive flinch reflex, much like a victim of abuse (okay, so maybe that was already there, but still).  I do not think that I have that kind of reassurance to give, at least not without sacrificing mental and physical health.

All this to say, I might not always, or even usually, be the kind of mother I envisioned when I was in the planning and manufacturing stages of parenting.

I used to be one of those people.  You know them.  They look at you in the grocery store when your children have gone from Mogwai to Gremlin in six seconds.  They give you the glare, the one that tells you you are a compleat and utter failure (compleat because these looks, for whatever reason, are accompanied by a British accent maybe reminiscent of Jo the Super Nanny.  Or maybe that was just a dream…).  I have doled out that look many times from the comfort of my non-child-having state, or at least the first-child-is-so-good-I-don’t-see-what-the-big-deal-is state.  Then came number two.

Now, when I get that inevitable glare in the check out line, in the coffee shop, in the bookstore, the doctor’s office and the local pub – I look those idiots in the eye and say, “It’s hard to raise a leader.”