I have worked with kids on the Autism spectrum for nearly 2 decades, but it’s different when it hits home. I knew the early signs of Autism, as a professional but it can be so different when looking at it through a mom’s eyes. Part of me wanted to pretend that it was all in my imagination, but as the signs continued, I knew I had to step into radical action. The 5 signs that made me more aware that my son was on the Autism spectrum all happened around the age of 2 years.
- He would not look me in the eye for an extended amount time, not longer than 5 seconds. We would play games and I would get down on the ground at his eye level. And no matter how I tried to get him to look and remain looking at me, his eyes could not stay fixed on mine.
- He has this extended fascination with objects that move and would always line them up. It was Thomas the Train, for others it may be Cars, dinosaurs, etc. He would take the trains and always lined them up in patterns. He’s almost 10 and still loves Thomas.
- His speech was very delayed. By the age of 18 moths he still only had about 15 words. Of course I heard around other family members that ”He’s a boy and boys are sometimes slower in language milestones.” He was also at home with a caregiver during the days, until about 2 years. And he was an “only” child, so he was not around other children much, except for playdates.
- He did not sit still for long and couldn’t pay attention to activities that were placed in front of him. He was constantly in motion, from the time he woke up literally until he fell asleep at night. And then he slept for short bursts, waking up very early in the morning.
- He enjoyed spinning around or being on anything that would spin like a chair with wheels. He craved this sensory stimulation.
My advice for moms that may see some of these signs is to discuss your specific concerns with your pediatrician and or a development pediatrician. Trust your instincts, you were blessed with intuition, which is usually pretty accurate.
I felt and knew my son needed extra help earlier. The next step was then get him tested. He was then able to receive early intervention services. Today, he is doing amazing in school and his academics. He is in a smaller classroom, reading and taking state tests, with modifications. He receives additional services, like speech and occupational therapy, and he still gets overwhelmed with being in crowds and loud noises. Most importantly we have accepted him for simply being him and make sure he doesn’t feel limited by Autism. The SKY is his limit.
Do you think there’s still a stigma within the black community concerning Autism? If so how can it be changed?