I can often tell just by looking – a little bit of interaction goes a long way for me. Granted, I am not a physician but frequently the signs are very apparent, especially if you know what you are looking for. I’ve spent enough time getting inside Will’s head that I feel like I have a pretty good handle on it.
I remember when we first realized there might be a problem. Those first few months were horrible, frightening, frustrating and essentially endless. I remember wanting to lie down on the floor (more on that later) and kick and scream and cry. I was sad, worried, afraid. I know how it feels to not want to admit that something might be wrong with your child.
I’m glad somebody had the courage to bring it up to me (thank you, Miss Joan, we will always be indebted to you). I am glad she was not afraid of the potential backlash and that she put the interests of my child first. Had she not taken that step, I would certainly not be where I am today.
The average age at diagnosis is 5 years, which is just far too late. If I had waited until 5 we would be so far behind. So much is learned between birth and 5 years and you can truly influence it in so many positive ways. We need to get to these kids earlier.
Should I say something? There is a child on Will’s baseball team (he’s still playing every game) that I feel pretty certain might have some issues. There is a child in our neighborhood that I know has issues. Is it my place to mention it to the parents? When it was brought to my attention, I acted on it with my typical intensity and vigor. I also know that at the time, I had no idea what I was looking for or what was considered ‘typical.’ So maybe people would want to know, right?
Or maybe not? Some people might get really offended by me butting into their business. I walk a fine line, but should I be putting the interest of the child first, like Miss Joan did? I struggle with this one every day.
We are very open about Will’s autism, sharing information with people on a daily basis. I talk about the ups and downs, the struggles and the successes all the time. I personally feel that the more knowledge people have in general, the better off my son will be in the long run. I want to say something to these folks – not to butt in, but to say “Hey, I’ve been there and I know what it’s like.”
To me, knowledge is power. The more you have, the better the decisions you make. So, that means I am probably going to say something.