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Evie’s Autism Signs

August 9, 2012

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One of the first things you get asked when your child gets diagnosed is ‘what were the signs’.  You become the expert on autism and suddenly everyone is worried about their niece’s brother’s son’s neighbor.  And I get it. Autism is big and it is scary.  As much as I celebrate my children and their beautiful lives, autism is a huge hurdle to place before these little feet.  While some moms can look at autism as a good thing, as a special thing… I can’t. I hate it.  I hate that my children’s childhood is therapy, looking at ways they should be different and things to improve on.  I know some of that is atypical of children in a whole. But for my kids, its magnified.

So this is my ‘Evie’s Autism Signs’ post.

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When Evie was first born, she was impossible to calm down. I drove my poor mother crazy letting her cry it out at 2 weeks on because I honestly couldn’t figure out what else to do to get her to sleep. She hated the swing.  She hated her crib.  The only way to get her to sleep was to either walk her/rock her and then as soon as you put her down she woke right back up. If you tried to hold her through her entire nap, she ended up a sweaty mess and your arm was about to fall off. Or you could swaddle her and let her cry it out.  EVERY noise would wake her up also. The air conditioning turning off and on would wake her up. We had to get a sleep machine very early. It wasn’t until she was able to take a binky without gagging that her going to sleep became easier.  I have to admit that during this time, I already started thinking this was odd.

Evie’s development from that point continued on a pretty normal path.  She sat up/crawled about the same time as Rett which was on time or early. She made more sounds when she was cooing/babbling which I took to be a good sign. She smiled, pointed and waved.  She started to talk about the same time as Rett with mama/dada. But her language shot off. She said ‘strawberry’ at 1 year old (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usfj_-q8mKY).  She was talking a lot. She said giraffe, hippo, zebra. She could label everything. Just like Rett could early on. She could say dinosaur and make animal sounds.

Whenever Rett was diagnosed I started doing tot school at home to help him practice some school type skills.  Evie caught onto everything very fast. She could match up memory game pictures. In fact she loved it. She’d do the whole game and beg for more.  She was about 15 months old at this point. She could also separate things by color.  She could do puzzles and the shape sorter. I tried to find pictures I had taken and can’t find them now.. of course.  But around 16 months Evie started writing letters. She would say the same things I said when I modeled writing for her ‘line down, line down, lin across.’ She could write A, B, M, T.  At one point she wrote her name. And once on the aqua doodle, she wrote my name.  This all was very exciting.. but strange at the same time.

All the A’s that Evie wrote are circled on the paper.

I’m not really positive when Evie started counting but it was pretty early. When we moved she was 22 months old and she could count to 12 in spanish and english. She also started saying a lot of spanish phrases from Dora and using them correctly. She could say up/open/thank you/star in Spanish and some stuff I didn’t even understand.

While all of this was exciting and neat, there were other things she wasn’t getting. She wasn’t labeling body parts on herself.  She could label them on books but if you asked her where her nose was… she wouldn’t respond.  She also wasn’t doing colors. Everything was and still is ‘yellow’.  I also noticed that she had low eye contact and it was very hard to get her attention. Calling her name did nothing.  She would never look at you.  The hand flapping started a long time ago. I remember e mailing Dr. Kellie who diagnosed Rett with autism about it. She said it might just go away or it could be a sensory thing. It never went away.  She doesn’t have bad hand flapping, neither does Rett.

Evie’s play skills were awesome. She did things Rett never did. She put the little people in cars, she set up her doll house furniture correctly. Kissed her babies, told them night night and put them to bed. On the other hand, she had alot of script movie speech and loved to reenact Dora episodes with toys. Long segments were in her memory and she could do 5 minutes of episodes sometimes word for word without breaks.

Evie knew all her animal sounds early. Even weird ones. Owl, frog.. recently she picked up turkey and donkey. She could answer really fast ‘What does ___ say?’ and she often requested ‘again, again!’ after we went thorugh them all.  She learned all her letters from the chicka chicka boom boom book and dvd. Then she learned her letter sounds in a matter of two or three weeks from the leap frog letter factory dvd.  I thought this was a Montessori critical period.  I took advantage and we watched the leap frog dvd everyday. She walked around saying H says huh, H says huh, every letter makes a sound H says huh. We started quizzing her on letters like we did with animals. ‘Again! Again!’ She loved it.

She started recognizing shapes before she was 18 months. She called her glasses ‘circles’ when we first got them.

I guess Evie’s main sign for me was her amazing memory and abilities.  The eye contact, tv talk and hard to get her attention came closer to 2 for me.  She passed the little written screening the doctor gives you at their 18 month appointment. Just like Rett.

I hope my children broaden your views of how you think Autism displays itself.  Evie’s strengths are her verbal vocabulary and abilities. She is saying more sounds then she should be able to at 26 months old.  Also her play skills are a strength.  Two things that  at one point I thought a lack of pointed to autism and having them pointed to being ok.  I hope that Evie’s participation in the sibling study makes a difference. And that someone else’s little girl will get therapy even earlier then we were able to.

 

And through all of this, what I’m secretly hoping is that Evie has hyperlexia. You can read more about that here. One group of hyperlexics display autism signs that go away when they get around kindergarten age.  This will depend on if she begins reading or how her interests continue in the next year or so.  Its a waiting game to see how it turns out.

 

So for now I’m contacting the state to get her into early intervention and let the therapy begin.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Ashley permalink
    June 13, 2013 2:10 pm

    It is mind blowing the to read all the similarities in Evie and my daughter Ava along with some differences of course…she had really bad arm flapping which we thought was the cutest thing, she had no grasping reflex, no eye contact but one of her first words was “backpack” but almost everything was scripted, she could sing songs from the radio at 18 months without knowing the right words but be able to have the beat so perfect that you could tell what she was singing. She is very musically inclined but her biggest strength is her memory and puzzle skills. She was at a ten month level at 18 months but loved therapy by 24 months she was at a 28 month age level. She just finished preK at the top of her class she comes home and plays with her toys and reenacts her day at school. When they were teaching the class how to write their names she almost instantly knew how to write everyone’s name, not just her own. I sometimes wonder where Ava would be today without the therapy that she received. She only received a year and a half of therapy because once she turned 3 she was testing so advanced that they had no where for her to go. After going through all that with Ava I decided that early intervention must be a cure. But then I had Caston, my 2nd child who is much more severe on the spectrum and he was so opposite in his response to therapy. I would cry for days after his evals because he wasn’t reaching any of the goals they set for him and they kept lowering them and he kept not reaching them. I didn’t want them to lower them anymore, I felt like that meant they didn’t believe he could do it. Once I finally realized that I was setting my self up for disappointment by comparing him to his sister and hoping for the same result. They have increased his therapies and he is started to talk a lot, although mostly scripted, I am so proud of it! One thing is for sure Evie has a great mom who will make sure she gets everything she needs and she will go far!

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