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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Why Blog It, or, Who Wants to Know?

It is very hard to be a parent in this position. There's not a lot that can be said when it's your child who finds herself in this position, and yet there's so much to explain. Is Ellie [insert uncomfortable, whispered word here]--retarded? No. Oh, no, no, no--far, far from it. Can she speak? Yes, and sing the whole soundtrack to The Sound of Music, among others. Does she meltdown in public? Really, it's more of a sit-in, sort of like the lunch counters in the South, or perhaps Gandhi swooning from hunger. And it's not anything any almost three year old doesn't also do--I've seen a kid manage to throw himself out of a cart at Target, and immediately said a hasty, grateful prayer that he didn't belong to me. Remember, not every "behavior" in a kid with challenges is a pathology. Can you go out in public with her? Why not? She doesn't have active leprosy. And the places we usually go are the places we usually go, so she knows people, we have a little thing that we do, and her expectations are clear. Will she go to school? Of course. What about friends? She has them, and she clearly is fond of them. Is she bonded to you? Does pushing through the stair gate and showing up in the bathroom when I'm in taking a shower count? How about crawling in bed with me and rubbing my face until I wake up? Or any of the milieu of gestures, actions, and behaviors she exhibits for her daddy, her sisters, even her kitty...emotional connectedness is definitely not an issue.

So why is she on the spectrum? Because her fine motor skills and expressive language skills are significantly behind those of other children her age. She has a very difficult time expressing her own needs in words of her choosing and in a way that makes those needs clear. She only started using the personal pronoun "I" this week, and that_was_HUGE in our book. Not to mention she paired it with an action word of importance--I want, I need, I'd like. All of a sudden, we have real, essential communication. Let's not even get started on what she can do with crayons--thank you, Danielle, our wonderful OT.

I guess my point in blogging is not to make big pronouncements about autism. I'm not that arrogant, and I don't feel I have to blame anyone or anything for this situation. I just know what we're dealing with. Maybe later, when we're less hunkered down, I can think broadly about it. But doing that now would cloud my focus, which needs to be 100% on getting this terrific little kid ready for the world. And the world ready for her.

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