Susan's Blog

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Revisit Those Memories

In some people with autism, there can be what appears to be an acquisition of skills and then a loss of them. People have asked me over the years if Nat lost skills. Tough question. My feeling has always been that skills showed up and then became quieter while he was working on other skills. I never believed that they disappeared entirely. He has always developed skills and returned to them. His development has not been linear, however. It is more like a series of loops but always a growing chain of them. For example, at certain “age-appropriate” stages, he has rejected typical toys or activities. Lined up by didn’t play with Fischer Price people; mouthed a ball; stared blankly at T-ball. Just lay there on his back in a pool during Mother-Infant swim class. Now I know: he never cared for those kinds of toys, and baseball just leaves him cold. But he does love basketball. This happened at age sixteen or so. And now his swimming abilities are legendary.

Development happens at any age and just keeps on happening. You must keep your eye on that truth if you are an autism parent. Try, try to return to those earliest days and see your child back then. See how much he has grown and changed and has become colored in. Go back in time and find the joy you had to have felt at this child of yours. Or see it now and rejoice in his uniqueness, feel that in your heart there is no one like him and yet he is also Every Baby.

It is infinitely interesting to me to go back in time and look at Young me with Baby Nat. Despite remembering so much sadness at not understanding my budding Autist, there was so much happiness, too. I wish all of you had journals to look back on, so that you could feel these blissful feelings you must have had with your infant autistic baby.

January 3, 1991, Fourteen Months Old:

We watch Nat in his crib at night. I really could stand there forever and the longer I do, the more I feel the need to laugh. It’s an odd kind of laughter that makes me shake and also feels close to crying. I have discovered this feeling in relation to Nat. I think it is what bliss feels like. That lump in my throat.

Nat sleeps in such a cute manner. His breathing is little puffs in and out in very small degrees. You can tell how small he is from the little breaths he takes.

His eyes are very puffed and round when closed. His whole forehead looks even more rounded in sleep. His candy mouth is slightly open and utterly at east, surrendered to his happy sleep. His little rounded arm is often close to his mouth with the thumb sticking out as if he could suck it at any moment. We hear him downstairs; suddenly there will be a chirping from the automatic sucking.

Best of all, his littlefoot sometimes escapes the blanket and hangs out from the crib, between the bars. It is all of 4 inches long, but chunky.

And of course the smell that lingers over the crib is pure perfue. And it is not merely baby powder and scented drawer liners. It is him; his essence, released during the peace of sleep, and lingering above him like a sweet cloud.

April 29, 1991, 18 months old:

Before I forget! Some cute/great things Nat does.

1) “sshh — aaah!” Screams and then says “ssh.”

2_ “Tee” means he wants to brush his teeth.

3) “Ah-hah” he wants something, probably a drink.

4) Offers up his arms to me to be picked up.

5) Delights in seeing his stuffed animals sitting in a chair, on the couch, etc. Fuzzy Lambkin, Russ, Dakin, Horsey Guy.

6) Calls cat “cah”. Calls dog “cah”. Calls Teddy Bear “cah”.

7) Says “Ma-ma, Ma-ma, Ma-ma” in a little soft singsong. Ned is “Da Da Dah.” Melts in your mouth.

8) Does “Eensy Weensy Spider”: Waves his arms in a circle saying “ahhh derrrr ahh.”

9) Yells and shouts a complete range of noises and sounds like a language but are not.

Finding these journal entries are like when the color comes on in The Wizard of Oz.


I recommend that they stop claiming that everyone learns all by age 5. Ok, it is 90 % capacity but it isn’t stagnant and the stat is used to push those like my boys too early. It made me feel like a failure until I realized that it was a lie and we never stop learning . Our biggest jump in learning was around age 8 for both. We seemed to jump and come back to the skipped milestones .

— added by Farmwiferwo on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Hi FW2, I don’t even believe it is 90% capacity at age 5… how could it be, with all the stuff we are capable of learning later in life?
What you say about coming back to the skipped milestones is exactly our experience.

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 4:32 pm