Wednesday, January 6, 2010
The Lightbulb Moment
The next year is a bit of a blur. Button's central line (or "Freddie" as we called it) was removed after 6 months and a CT scan of his chest showed that, rather miraculously, there was no damage at all to his lungs. We were told to keep up with his oral meds for another 6 months, just to be on the safe side. But to all intents and purposes, Button was cured of his TB.
He had been put on a special formula called Nutrini, which saw him put on weight and his growth chart showed a dramatic improvement. He went from 12.5 lbs at 13 months to 20lbs at 16 months! All in all, things were looking fantastic for our little man!
Or were they? Just as his health seemed to improve, a whole new set of problems began to rear their ugly heads. No-one expected him to be at the same developmental level as his peers, but as he approached his 2nd birthday, the gap seemed to get wider and wider. He rarely played appropriately with toys, preferring instead to spin wheels on his trucks and press the same buttons on the electronic toys over and over again. He developed the first of his obsessions - balls. We couldn't go into a shop without leaving with a ball. Yet he never kicked, threw or bounced one. Just carried it around with him. He was also becoming quite aggressive.
We had been referred to the early intervention team, and he was getting lots of physiotherapy and a small amount of speech therapy. But it was next to impossible to discern if his delays were due to his physical problems, his institutionalisation or something else. In general, we were all happy with the progress he was making considering all he'd been through. We still thought that with the right therapies, and a lot of patience and time, he would catch up.
My "A-ha" moment came in May 2004, as Button was approaching his 3rd birthday. We were on holidays in France, with my parents and my brother, his wife and their son. We had all rented little holiday homes next to each other on a gorgeous campsite, and were having an absolutely wonderful time. One day, Button was in Nana & Papa's "house", as I went in to get him I was greeted by gales of laughter, and Papa taking photos of Button sitting on the floor with 4 or 5 saucepan lids spinning around him. He was going back and forth making sure none dropped, like a circus performer.
It hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. We had been to a safari park, a theme park, a zoo, many playgrounds and the beach, and nothing had captured his attention like those saucepan lids! Suddenly, everything began to fall into place -the obsessions, the lack of eye contact, the inappropriate use of language and his aggression. My darling, darling, boy had autism.