Bryce was diagnosed with autism just before his 3rd birthday. He’s almost 14 years old now and I swear he doesn’t have autism anymore.
Ten years ago, yes, hands down, can totally agree with his diagnosis. Yes, my son was showing symptoms and signs of autism. The hand-flapping, the lack of communication, lack of social interaction like he was ‘in his own world’ (I hate that term, but it’s an easy way to sum it up), attached to certain objects like his blanket, would only want to wear this one outfit, lined up objects all the time, seriously all the time, the list goes on.
But after reading this AMAZING POST, “10 Ways Being an Autism Parent Has Been Different Than Being a ‘Typical’ Parent (So Far…)” written by Melinda Brown, I started comparing some of the very common traits that she mentions that many children with autism have and I started to realize that a lot of these traits are long gone in Bryce. Keep in mind that every child with autism is different, but a lot of the symptoms and traits, routines, habits, etc, all those kinds of things are generally the same. Except I don’t feel like that’s the case for us anymore.
Now, I’m not saying Bryce is cured of autism, but he definitely has lost a lot of the traits. Was it the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatment? Maybe the school system and his amazing one on one Special Education Assistants throughout the years? Or is he just growing up and ‘growing out’ of these typical autism traits? I don’t know the answer but I can tell you what’s changed for Bryce throughout the past 10 years.
Routines can be very important for most children with autism. Structure is like a security blanket and it helps them cope knowing what’s going to happen and when is it going to happen.
Over the last year I’ve pretty much phased out the need to explain to Bryce what’s going to happen and when it is going to happen. Routines weren’t really a huge problem for Bryce, as he’s always been able to adapt to any situation. Generally things he was looking forward to, and then for whatever reason, we weren’t able to do it anymore can result in tears or a tantrum, but I think that’s normal for any child really. Bryce still uses a schedule board at school that has laminated pictures of what his day will look like and I think that helps him with moving around from classroom to classroom being in a middle school, but nothing like that at home. I’m able to say, “Bryce let’s go!” and he drops everything he is doing, puts his shoes and jacket on without a problem and ready to go.
A lot of children with autism are considered ‘picky eaters’ because they don’t like very many things and like Melinda Brown mentions in her post, you generally can name everything they will eat on one hand. Bryce was definitely a picky eater. Super picky! For the longest period of time, every meal was French fries and ketchup. I’d say for the past 3-4 years that hasn’t been a problem. I can put any meal in front of him and he will eat it. Some meals take longer than others to finish, but they do get finished.
Sleep (or Lack Thereof)
Most children with autism may have difficulty sleeping or sleeping through the night. When Bryce was a baby he would sleep through the night. I seriously thought I was the luckiest person in the world because I know that isn’t always the case. He went through a phase where he’d crawl into my bed in the middle of the night for maybe a year, but other than that, slept through the night every night.
Bryce doesn’t really have any sensory processing issues, which generally is why public outings can be be difficult for a child with autism. When Bryce is excited he does this thing with his hands and it’s so hard to explain without visuals, but if you watch this video on our YouTube page you can see him doing it at 0:44 seconds into the video. Anyways, when he does that, sometimes we get starred at, or ‘the looks’ from people but it doesn’t bother me much anymore because I know that it means he’s happy and couldn’t be bothered what anyone else is thinking.
Holidays haven’t ever been a problem. Bryce goes trick or treating on Halloween. He leaves cookies and milk for Santa on Christmas and opens his presents without any hesitation. He even writes his own name all by himself when we had out Valentine’s Day cards.
The only ‘holiday’ we ever have a problem with is his birthday. We can invite his whole classroom of 30+ students, and maybe 8 will RSVP back at all. Part of it is because his birthday is the day after Canada Day which generally is a busy time for people, not to mention his birthday also falls at the beginning of summer vacation and some people aren’t able to come. That being said, he’s never celebrated a birthday alone.
Communication is something that can be challenging for Bryce. Bryce is verbal, but at the same time, not really verbal. He can tell me when he wants something whether it’s in a complete sentence like, “I want more juice please,” or if it’s just the a couple of words, “go bathroom”. Some of it is prompted, like being told what to say, for example if someone says hi to him at school and he doesn’t respond, me or whoever he is with will say, “Say ‘hi’ Bryce” followed by the persons name. Most cases he is parroting. Every single day after school, secretly hoping he will tell me without having to prompt any further, I’ll ask him, “How was school today, Bryce?” and he will respond, “How was school today, Bryce.” But if I ask him if he wants something he has no problem saying yes or no.
Bryce will always have autism. He will grow up to be an adult with autism. But many autism traits that were very prominent when Bryce was younger are simply not there anymore.
But regardless of anything, something I do know is that I love someone with autism and he means the world to me!
Thanks for reading,
For more information about early detection please visit First Signs, a website dedicated to educating parents and professionals about autism and related disorders.
If you are concerned that your child may have autism, please consult your pediatrician.