It was probably two weeks before Rex was born when I first noticed that August seemed a little withdrawn. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what the issue was, but made a mental note to mention it the the Occupational Therapist who visits each week through our state’s Early Intervention program.
Life is hectic, however, and I forgot one week and the next week I was actually having a baby, and so it wasn’t until I took the twins for a well-visit the week after Rex’s birth that I remembered what it was that was bothering me: August had stopped responding to his name. I gave a little demonstration in the doctor’s office and called his name. He didn’t even blink and I could feel all the air seep out of the room.
We ran down a full list of reasons why this could be happening and the pediatrician urged me to get his hearing tested. Meanwhile, alarm bells were going off in my head because I know, thanks to the extended tour I’ve had of Special Needs Land, that a child failing to respond to their name can be an early warning sign of autism.
I’d love to tell you that I responded with grace, but the opposite is true. Instead, I took a long shower and cried my eyes out. I cried because I was fearful–afraid that another special needs child would split my attention and resources leaving both children with not enough. I cried thinking about hours of work and research that would lay ahead. I cried because it’s been a hard couple of months–pregnant with twins under the age of one–and I had hoped for things to be easier for a while.
After my big cry I got to work–I emailed some friends of mine who had children with autism. I sent a text to August’s OT and another to Charlie’s former speech therapist who also has a grown son with autism. I watched some videos on YouTube trying to get a handle on what autism might look like in a young child and trying to see what kinds of interventions are appropriate.
I let myself admit that the idea of another special needs child was exhausting, but only briefly before getting my head on straight again.
I wrote the above over a week ago and let the post sit there–I couldn’t bring myself to post it. It was as if posting it would make it real.
We’re in the process of getting a hearing evaluation lined up for August. At this point, we don’t know if we’re dealing with a hearing issue or something else. I do know that both of the twins have been delayed all along, and this could just be yet another symptom of that. They do eventually meet their milestones–just later than expected. While we’re jumping through hoops, I’ve been busy trying to enjoy my little guy just the way he is–taking him on little mom-dates when the opportunity arises and making sure that his brother doesn’t steal all the attention. I can’t control what the future will hold, but I can be sure that I won’t let it ruin the present.