Autism and magical developments

by beagooddad on February 23, 2007

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Dudes. This is a post that makes me very happy to write. You can read any number of scary things about autism no the internet. It is definitely not all doom and gloom living with a child with autism. I’m not in a position to talk about cures and theories of causes concerning autism. But, I can give you some insight into what it is like in our house.

I predicted back in December that Pookie seemed like he was getting close to making another developmental jump. I think it would have happened earlier if he had been able to stay in school during Christmas break. He had a bit of a regression in certain aspects during those weeks away from class.  School is definitely good for Pookie.

But, the jump has finally happened and this isn’t a little crawl forward. This is a rock star leap.

First off, he is getting very good at doing multiple step tasks. We’ve been working on that for a while and he is making big progress. He’s also getting very independent. He apparently taught himself to put on his own shoes the other day. None of us know when that actually happened, but sure enough he does it all the time now.

His verbal skills have improved so much it is hard to really describe. We hardly ever let him do anything without asking us about it first. And, he almost always can anymore if we just wait for him. No matter where we are or what we are doing. The other day I was making dinner. I asked Pookie if he wanted waffles, grilled cheese or a couple other things. He said, “I want waffles” then paused and said,” I want Mickey Mouse waffles and syrup.” He wanted to make sure I actually got the order right.  Sometimes it takes a while for him to figure out what he wants to say, but if we give him the time, he does get it.

The little guy also started paying attention to his sister the other day. But, I have learned from the past that just because it looks like he is ready to do something does not mean it is going to stick. He looked like he was going to potty train about a year ago and we are still waiting for that one.

They went from only occassionally running together in circles to frequently doing little things all the time. Daily. Most of the things he does probably wouldn’t be noticed by most people, but me and BeAGoodMom are constantly shaking our heads in amazement.

Last night they watched Shrek before bed. When it was over, I told them to go upstairs so we could brush their teeth, etc. I waited a couple minutes before going up after them. Geetle was upstairs saying something goofy. I wish I could remember what it was, but she is always saying goofy stuff. Pookie was standing in the hall way next to her repeating a few of the words everytime she said them. And, it wasn’t just echolalic response. He was following her around trying to get in on what she was doing.

A day or so ago, Pookie wanted us to blow on his belly and make funny noises. He indicates this by pulling his shirt up and sucking his breath in. We are supposed to suck our breath in and blow on his belly. He indicated that he wanted to play. I told him, “Why don’t you go blow on your mom’s belly?” and he walked right over to her and blew on her belly and giggled. Last night, he must have been playing the game with BeAGoodMom before I got home. He walked over to me and pulled up his shirt and said, “Blow on my belly, dadda.” And then later he came up and pinched my stomach and said, “Pinch an inch.”

This last one sounds cute and all, but think about it for a second. He wants to play a game. He walks right over to me and tells me what he wants to do…using words. It happened so fast I had trouble actually understanding what he said even though he said it perfectly clearly.

The echolalia is still there but even more frequently than before it is highly targetted to what is going on. If you ignore him when he is doing this kind of echolalia, he will get your attention and make sure you know what he is talking about.

When you have twins where one has autism, the one that is typically developing can have trouble finding a reason to stay interested in her sibling. Geetle has been all over the new attention from Pookie so far. Any playdate is a good playdate has always been her motto. I have seen her recently do such neat stuff like finding the book on the bookcase that she knows Pookie likes and giving it to him and pointing out when Pookie loses his show in the snow and giggling when Pookie decides it is time to blow her stomach (while yelling “No, no, Pookie”).

And just when you wonder how fine of details Pookie notices of the things in the house, he was giving me grief last night because their were no fish in the fish tank and he wanted to feed them. Don’t ask. I need to head to the pet store this weekend and do a better job maintaining the tank from now on.

So, there you have it. Long winded but those are the developments that have been occuring with Pookie and Geetle. If you have a child with autism, keep the faith. This stage will come. If your child has already been through it, I bet you remember it fondly. It really is amazing to watch.

I still remember when the kids were several weeks old. Geetle smiled right when kids are supposed to and was super at it. Pookie didn’t do it for several weeks later. We were just starting to get more than just worried when, BAM, one day he was grinning this huge amazing grin absolutely everywhere.

When doctors and teachers talk about autism they often mention things as speech delays and developmental delays. When you are living the day to day with an autistic kid, you can often fail to see the progress as he figures at the world around him.  As I read more about adult autism, I’m beginning to realize that Pookie really does have delays, not inabilities. Everyday I’m more sure of the things he is going to be able to do when he grows up.  Hopefully my taxes will be one of them.
Rock on, Pookie.

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