Saturday, April 03, 2010


Today is National Autism Awareness Day. I didn't set out to mark it specifically, but really just about every day is autism awareness day here.

J. will be 2-months-old soon. We're working hard to enjoy his babyness--and mostly succeed. He prefers human contact at all times and knows immediately when we've tried to put him down, even if he's in the deepest of sleep. He's smiling and starting to giggle. Some of my favorite moments are when he falls asleep on me, chest-to-chest, sinking in with the greatest contentment.

But A. and I both spend a lot of time wondering and conjecturing, trying to remember how things compare to last time.

He smiles and makes eye contact, even works to catch our eyes. But he smiled extensively for shadows and light, preferring to find patterns around him. And our memories go back to E. smiling at our high-contrast quilt with a triangular pattern and the ceiling fan.

E. showed an aversion to intrusive sounds even in the womb, kicking at the ultrasound wand.  J. was more laid-back during such exams, lazily turning away, but not getting worked up. He sleeps through a lot of noises in the house. But then today we sat in Starbucks and he was clearly disturbed by the coffee grinder and blender. And we start to wonder about sensory processing.

J. has a higher than average chance of having some issue on the spectrum. I've seen everything from a 10% to 33% chance, versus the general population's 1%. I imagine there's an even higher chance that he might have some problem, likely in the areas of sensory processing or attention.

We're under no delusion that we can stop J. from having a problem if he's already programmed to have one. But we've already determined that we'll call early intervention, jump on OT, find some help the second we have a clear indication that it's time.

Ironically, we're likely to receive less push-back from our pediatricians this time since J. has an older brother with a diagnosis. This time we won't hear that we're just over-concerned first-time parents. (Even though research has found that first-borns are more likely to be autistic.) (Oh, and our new location and pediatric clinic seems more amenable to the discussion.)

So we're aware, hyper-aware. And today's just another day for us.


Bea said...

That was an interesting article about the risk of autism in first-borns. One thing they don't mention is the possibility that older siblings function as a kind of early intervention. Certainly I think that Pie provided some of the most essential forms of early learning for Bub - she was close enough in age and advanced enough both verbally and socially to provide him with a constant and very effective incentive for social interaction.

My sister-in-law just had a baby boy last November, and there is autism on both sides of that family, so although no one is talking about it directly, I'm sure we're all watching the baby with eagle eyes, looking for signs. I found myself watching for the stiffness that was characteristic of Bub as an infant. Bub's body was always ram-rod straight - he would never cuddle inwards like most babies do. Little Boy Cousin is doing fine so far in that department - but of course it's too soon to tell.

Aliki2006 said...

It's inevitable to draw comparisons, and to keep worrying and checking and observing. Our second child was a girl, and because we didn't know about L.'s AS until T. was three, and because we had worries of a different sort to deal with about her as well when she was an infant, we didn't do much comparing and noting until later. But of course, looking back, we saw lots of differences.

Mouse said...

One of the ironies is that Thumper is less likely to have AS, but we should be able to get an evaluation much more easily because of Scooter's diagnosis.

With the age difference between our two, it's harder to remember exactly what Scooter was like at precise ages, but we're trying. Thumper's pediatrician asked specifically for a comparison as best as we could remember. We *think* Thumper is initiating more eye contact--Scooter made it, but I think it was usually because we did.