When I remarried, I gained something really cool: another son. Now 8, he is one cool little kid. But, we’ve known for years that something wasn’t quite right about him. He is not shy, he’ll start playing with any child who will talk to him. He is friendly enough, and is very smart. But, he was prone to ‘melting down’ quite a bit, over little things. If you moved something that he thought should not be moved, it would cause an episode. If he did not get his way, he melted down. You get the idea.
Not all of the melt downs were bad, some just involved a lot of crying. Others were physical. It was a crap shoot.
Oddly enough, he did not always melt down. Sometimes, he just accepted it and moved on—like a ‘normal’ child may do. From my point of view, he was just acting like a spoiled child. See, he had been allowed a lot of freedom, like jumping on furniture or throwing balls in the house, things I did not allow. But, the melt downs would happen outside the house as well. Sometimes it was as small as not getting a piece of candy or we walked through a different door than the he wanted. This made me wonder and I, finally, began to think my wife was right…this was not normal.
As he grew older, the melt downs diminished. He started school and, at first, everything seemed to be OK.
They weren’t. We were noticing things like his inability to listen to others. His lack of empathy. A growing self-awareness and self-centeredness. He was, at times, not very grateful at receiving gifts.
Then, the melt downs returned. In second grade, he had to be removed from his class (a fact that we did not know until much later) because of a melt down. He came home one day, all out of sorts, because a sign had been left up that told the class they were going outside when, in fact, weather did not allow it.
These were all signs that he has a problem, but doctors did not want to label him.
Well, after a lot of grief and perseverance, we finally have a diagnosis: Autism. Fortunately, it is of the type that he will be able to function and have a somewhat normal life, but will need a lot of help.
Help from my wife and I, help from his father and his wife, the school, families and friends. He is a great kid and I am hopeful that he will learn to deal with his issues, but, more importantly, we, as his parents, learn to deal with them so we can teach and help him. He is one awesome little boy.