Well...what is it?
I am still trying to figure it out as we go.
Here is a pretty good definition that I took from this website:
"Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are developmental conditions that cause children to have
problems with communication and interactions with other people. They're a diverse set of
disorders: Each child who has an ASD has a unique set of challenges and strengths."
Even though a little vague, I like how this definition points out that each ASD child is unique.
When I look at the above description, I sometimes am not sure if Gabriel fits that mold. He is definitely very social and interacts fairly well with people. He just has not hit his developmental milestones in accordance with what is "normal." He is 14 months and he just started crawling--army crawling. He is very behind as far as communication goes, but he has started to communicate with us using sign language words like "all done" and "more." When working with him in therapy, I get the sense that there is something, cognitively, preventing him from just getting the hang of developing his normal movement skills. It really takes work for him to stay up on his knees or stand for longer than three minutes. But we are working toward strength and comfort with him so he can continue. He has also hit a plateau as far as development goes. He did so many things so quickly, we were told to expect a plateau period with him where he would need some time to regroup and strengthen. Sometimes I look at Gabriel and think he looks just like a normal child his age, but then we get him around other children and I am reminded of his differences, his gifts, that set him apart from other children his age. I don't get sad about it like I used to, now it just makes me determined to work with him to get him where he needs to be.
To be honest, Gabriel is still a mystery to me. I wish I knew what was going on in his mind. I wish I knew why he screamed. I wish I knew why he is perfectly fine in some social interactions and has meltdowns in others. I wish I knew why he isn't sleeping like he used to, or why he only poops in the morning (is this weird?). I wish I knew why he desperately needs me in certain situations and appears to absolutely loathe me in others--man that kid can scratch worse than a cat!
When we took him to the neurologist in May I was so full of dread with how far behind he was developmentally. As a mother and a perfectionist, I just cringed and cried thinking that my child might never crawl, walk, talk, etc. Gabriel has proved us wrong and hit many milestones in these last three months. We are continuing to work with him every day, and see small improvements each week.
But again, he is still a mystery.
With ASDs, the spectrum has grown over the years and has become so broad most doctors/specialists have trouble pinpointing just exactly where certain children will fall.
This is probably going to be the case with Gabriel. We just don't know what his limit will be, and, hopefully, there won't be a limit for him. All of the doctors we have met thus far say there is really a lot of hope, especially with how far he has come since May. Most will tell us that on the spectrum for autism, he appears to be very high functioning and will hopefully grow up to have a normal life with some personality quirks.
Gibby is just the sweetest little guy I know. He is full of the dickens (yes, I just used that term) and loves being a goofball. He is currently obsessed with cars and page turning in books. He loves...no, he ADORES food and eats so fast we sometimes can't get it on his tray quick enough. He is a snuggler and he also has a very feisty temper. He starts every morning with a big, toothy grin that makes it so worth the early morning wake-up call.
We are going to be making another trip to Spokane here in the next couple of months or so and I am really hoping for good news.