Thursday, July 7, 2011

Look! It's a Light at the End of the Tunnel! Please, God, Don't Let It Be a Train!

I've got to brag on my kid a little bit now.  We recently met with his therapists, and I've since affectionately dubbed him my little schitzo-tistic (say it fast, you'll get it).  I mentioned before that Caleb was a little bit of a puzzling case, autism-wise, and my baby is nothing if not consistent in his inconsistency.  For those of you who may not know much about autism, the term "autism spectrum" is used to describe the array of potential symptoms present in any diagnosis, and it's a HUGE array.  Some children are mildly affected, others severely, exhibiting symptoms from mild social anxiety and OCD to tantrums and self-destructive behavior.  There are, however, certain hallmarks - things that are ALMOST always seen in children on the autism spectrum, and Caleb seems to be lacking quite a few of them.  Now, don't get me wrong, my denial phase is firmly in the past (on my good days).  I know my child is somewhere on the spectrum, although he seems to be merrily sliding along toward the high functioning end of the scale here lately.  He will probably always be a little quirky, and yet will still be regarded as relatively normal when compared to certain branches of the family.  But I digress.  One of the hallmarks of autism is a lack of comfort with social praise, or any sort of attention, really.  You can't really clap for an autistic child's achievements, most of the time, as they will either be made uncomfortable by this, or have trouble distinguishing positive connotations from negative and it would not matter to them at all (I'm probably on shaky medical ground here and should include the caveat that I am not, in fact, a medical professional).  The long and short of it is that my kid doesn't want you to clap for him, he wants APPLAUSE.  And a "Yay" thrown in for good measure.  "Good Job" never hurt anyone either.  When he does things, he'll look around to make sure someone's watching.  He brings things to our attention, which is not typically characteristic of an autistic child - at least naturally.  Imitative play and learning through observation is also rough, and my baby is ROCKING those skills.  His verbal skills have picked up and he's copying just about every word we throw at him these days.  He's still very quiet, and has trouble in group situations where people are focusing on him, but it's progress.  HE EVEN FED A STUFFED MICKEY TONIGHT, PEOPLE!  Granted, I demonstrated first, but imaginative play is usually pretty rare, so this is huge for us.  His therapists are extremely pleased with his progress and we couldn't be happier.  So, yay therapy!

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