After nearly nine years (plus those nine months in utero) of raising Charlie and living in Autismland, I would say "no" or "not really, but" if asked to rate Charlie according to the criteria of the DSM-IV. Lack of eye contact, lack of emotional reciprocity, hand-flapping, arranging and playing with toys in a set order, and so many others: These get "no's" or "if he does it, he can be redirected."
"Has trouble with transitions" was one criterion that Jim and I always said "no" to in the early days. If anything, Charlie seemed especially to enjoy entering and exiting his classrooms, and smiled to say "hi!" and "bye!" when therapists came and went. But in the past year and a half, we have been noting that--especially at this time of transition, of the changing seasons--Charlie has been having trouble with, yes, transitions. The last day of a beach vacation is not simply a sad event but saturates the preceding days in the swirling black and yellow of a behavior squall. Today any "between-time"--returning from a morning errand-run with Jim and waiting for me to cook a late breakfast; returning from a walk through our little town to wait a half-hour before a train ride--became squall time.
We have been turning to the full apparatus of social stories and schedules of pictures and of words; of simply explaining to Charlie "this will happen and then this"; of ABA; of attending to subtle shifts in Charlie's moods; of I don't know what. And so tonight I searched for photos, laminate, and velcro and put together a schedule to facilitate Charlie's morning getting-in-the-bus routine.
But while these small-scale transitions have led Charlie to erupt in fast-passing behavior squalls, I think that the air of discontent--discomfort--distemper--he has worn for the past week is from his knowing that some really big transitions are on the horizon.