What with Typepad down for much of the day due to maintenance and an image of this blog from last Saturday appearing like a ghost, my sense of time was jarred all day. The discussion about our children's births and how this might or might not have contributed to their being on the autism spectrum started by Gretchen's Henry Chronicles and also by MOM-NOS's The origin of the "species" left me on and off recalling Charlie's developmental milestones his first and second years of life.
8 months: sat independently. 9 months: rolled over. 12 months: scooted on his derrière propelled by his hands. 16 months: walking. 18 months: "something neurological" suspected by the daycare teachers.
Charlie at his first birthday had better eye contact than he did for years (starting at six and up). He also had four sort of sound-words: ugee (he liked what he'd eaten), mmmm (mommy), eee (I have to look up what I wrote in the babybook), duh (daddy). At 18 months, all Charlie said was "dah" over and over and over and over again, along with crying.
In Autismland, sometimes you move seven steps forward and then eight steps back. It's a movement, writes Fae Myenne Ng in Bone, like that of a ship moving through the ocean.
Charlie smiled from the back seat of the bus and had a happy morning, working on writing the numbers and answering questions in circle with prompting. After lunch, an attempt to redirect from his (probably stimmy) play resulted in a bang and a bite. His teacher helped him through it by working on him requesting "break" for the rest of the day. Once home, Jim took him on a bike ride--last night's freezing rain having melted the snow. I debriefed our home therapist about what had happened and she nodded. "So it's him remembering something bad happening and acting out on it, afterwards," she said. And it was a great session. My generous parents have given Charlie a little laptop and I am ordering a touchscreen; the therapist went to the Wiggles website and helped Charlie point and click. He was extra-good eating peanut noodles and shrimp at a restaurant.
Jim and I were mulling over (for the 99th-thousandth time) how Charlie has often had to relearn skills he had seemed to master: Writing his name. Understanding number correspondence. "Maybe it's just part of how his brain works," Jim said. It's not that Charlie forgets a skill, just that he's got to have his learning of it reinforced three or four or eight times over before it sticks.
Seven steps forward, eight back. I have often objected to calling autism a "developmental delay" versus a neurological and medical one. But perhaps there is something in the notion of being "developmentally delayed": If I think of Charlie's speech ability and social skills as at a preschool level, I think of him as acquiring the skills children tend to acquire earlier, only Charlie always moves at his own Charlie-pace. He took out the Lite Brite tonight and put all the pieces in while listening to his favorite songs. I thought of how the box says "for ages 4+", of how Charlie is 8 1/2, of how it's never about what the box says. It's where my boy is.
I've always been bad about days and historical data so it is a good thing that I keep a journal. Over our 10th anniversary dinner (restaurant chosen by Charlie) our conversation about the Wiggles (prompted by Charlie's shirt) led to Jim pointing out "they've been together longer than the Beatles."
What! "I thought the Beatles were together for maybe 20 years," I said.
"Nope. Eight years, by the time Ringo joined. But Paul and John, okay, they'd been playing together since the mid-50s. And, the Monkees, they were just together a few years. So if you think of how those Wiggles had been at it since they were in college...."
Good thing I married a historian. How else could I have gotten in the habit of remembering every detail of the past ten years, my ten best years? We've been together in Autismland for the majority of our life together--Jim and I got married on December 16, 1995, and Charlie was born on May 15, 1997--and I can only hope we can keep eating and talking and walking together for many, many more years.