Friday, November 7, 2008

The Autistic Spectrum

Do you know there is this whole "spectrum" thing when it comes to Autism? Yeah, I've always thought autism is where the kid doesn't talk hardly at all and sits in a corner and doesn't react to any human contact or something, but actually there are all sorts of degrees of autism that we learned while we were being evaluated. It is this sort of swinging pendulum that you can fall anywhere in a certain range and still be considered "being within the spectrum" of autism.

We went through a lot of specific tests and questions that were rating MJ on this kind of thing. And this is where things became very interesting.

Sure, I figured it was normal all the things MJ did. Well, maybe not normal, but I just figured he was an extra sensitive kid, or just extra observive or picky or emotional. Then when they started rating our responses, I began seeing that other kids really weren't so freaked out by transitions or by certain changes in routine or schedule. Other kids weren't lost in a trance looking at a glob of glue on the desk for an hour, and other kids weren't so obsessed with lining up things in rows and such.

I guess maybe I had realized something different recently---Well, MJ was our first child, and I just figured this was fine the way he talked or acted or whatever, but over the last years since school started for him, I began to take notice that he didn't respond the same way as the other kids did.

Like even in Kindergarten, all the other kids were talking one on one with others, and when they left to go home they all hugged the teacher or high fived and said goodbye as they left the door, whereas MJ was like a robot and would only react socially if I specifically instructed him to do something.

He had friends in K and 1st grade, and when I saw them communicating with their parents or siblings or other friends, it was a dramatic difference in how little I was getting from MJ. Not bad, not really less, but just different. It was as if MJ's ideas and thoughts came out in jumbled bursts as if you were watching somebody who had been in a war and was having "flashbacks" or snipits of something. It's hard to explain.

BUT anyway---we were answering all these questions and beginning to see that we were measuring on this autistic scale, and it was an eye opener. It was not high on the scale, but it was still there.

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