Thursday, August 10, 2006
Welcome to the Pond
Welcome, I'm so glad you found us! We live in the wet wilds of the Pacific Northwest. After college and graduate school, my husband and I came home and settled down near family in the small town where we grew up.
Our first little tadpole, diva frog, was born in 1998. She was early to talk, early to walk, an inquisitive little "grown-up" from the moment she was born. By age 3 she was known as mommy's little legal assistant and was quick to give the City attorney her opinion on everything. Today diva frog is a true girly girl - complete with a pretty in pink wardrobe, Barbies and Polly Pockets galor, and ballet and gymnastics classes every week. Her life is a musical and she is the star - singing every solo.
Our second tadpole, little frog, was born in 2002. 10lbs 11oz, sunnyside-up with his head turned to the side, little frog was born via c-section after days of start and stop labor and hours of unproductive pushing. Little frog came into the world with a strong startle reflex and extremely powerful lungs he was not afraid to use. For the first few months of little frog's life he screamed long, loud and hard, nursed voraciously (45 min at a time) and slept sporadically. Being the experienced frog parents we were, we declared him colicky and began to apply all the home remedies and old wives tales. But little frog was a conundrum. He detested riding in the car and screamed as if he were being tortured. He had a very high tolerance for physical pain, but could not tolerate a light touch or anything brushed against his skin. He loved the sound of running water, the vacuum cleaner, the TV, and musical toys, often rocking on his hands and knees while listening. He cried when the sound stopped. But he did not startle or even turn his head to look when you called his name or banged pot lids together behind him. He loved to be held or swaddled tightly and rocked or bounced with great energy. He would look at you and light up when you entered a room with a charming grin and a twinkle of delight in his eye. He did not care at all if you left.
He crawled with his left hand turned out. He had an uncanny ability to drive his walker, maneuvering it into and out of tight spaces like a professional. When he walked, he walked on his tip toes (sometimes on the knuckles of his toes). When he ran, which was most of the time,it was always fast and furious with little regard for what lie in front of him. At 18 months he did not speak, he did not wave, he did not point, he did not seek us out for help, he did not reference us for reassurance and he did not turn to us for comfort when he was hurt or sad or afraid. Diva frog pointed out that he never looked at her eyes, only at her mouth. The pediatrician told us not to worry, but to have his hearing tested if he did not have some words by age two. We began our own research and slowly came to realize that our little frog was swimming in the deep, dark water of autism. Deep and dark to us because we had so little understanding of how he perceived the world or how he felt. Deep and dark for little frog because he had been learning to navigate these waters on his own.
Today little frog is four years old. We are still traveling the maze of therapies and interventions. Some have helped, some have not. Little frog continues to grow and learn. He still does not talk. He only points to show us what he wants, not to draw our attention to what he sees or hears. Sometimes he comes to us for help, although he is still a fiercely independent problem solver (which makes toddler-proofing the Lilly pad a big challenge for mom and dad). He does come to us for comfort, and is beginning to look to our expressions to help make sense of new situations. He still has his smile and the twinkle in his eye and he continues to charm everyone he meets. And just a few days ago, on his birthday, he looked directly into diva frog's eyes as if to say "Look at me! Look at what I can do!" and smiled his delight just for her.