As parents, we worry about our kids, if they get enough sleep, if they eat enough of everything, if their poop's consistency is to our liking, if they experience enough of anything. These are somewhat understandable parental worries.
So, I, newly a mother of two, have been asking myself: am I doing a good job mother-wise. It's highly questionable, I will ever get an answer other than the one I can provide myself. Something scary has been going on, and it has been going on for quite a while. We have been concerned about our son's speech development for a few months. It hasn't progressed normally, even along the normal parameters for boys (expected to being slower than girls), he is far behind. At two years, kids should be able to produce 50 to 200 words, they should be able to understand up to 400 words. Plus they should be able to do such things as look a person in the eye, and, not resort to screaming when having to perform certain tasks asked to do by other persons than the immediate family.
Well, you, what can I say. Our boy didn't do well in any of said tasks. Until recently, he didn't say a single word, he didn't interact socially with people outside the family, and he didn't perform to the pediatrician's satisfaction. The result of this was an under-average performance in the developmental test, and the pediatrician telling me that judging by his behavior, my son may be in the autism spectrum. All I could say was, yes, well, OK. I didn't add the classic retort "That is yoooour opinion!" and "I'll get another opinion, you!"
I tried to find flaws in their test, the whole setup. I couldn't. It is a standardized test, with the same conditions for everyone, so the results are representative for his age group. I then alleged a conspiracy. Doctors being greedy money makers who want to sell you stuff and services. Maybe they are. Still, they couldn't sell you anything if there wasn't a kid in need of those services.
I was next in line. It's me. Too much iPad, too little parenting. We jokingly call the iPad parental unit c in this house, just to give you a little grasp of its importance. So, it had to be me. Either something I did wrong or something my crummy genes did wrong to cause that in my boy. As it turns out, my genes are rather likely to cause that kind of disorder. Not gluten or the iPad. At least I think they don't. As it turns out we know so little about autism, or the brain in general, that there's plenty of room for all kinds of crazy theories.
"If he has it, it's all my fault, OK?" hubby said to me, while we were driving in the car. Hubby's so sweet. "I mean look at me, the way I am." Awww, my sweet little Asperger! I replied that we're both a couple of odd people with some variance of social strangeness. So in my mind, it has to be a rather explosive coming together of crummy genes. Romantic, if you think about it. We combined our flawed gene pools and what came out was an even bigger water, a big muddy sea of crummyness. Awwww!
And that changed my perspective. Yes, we're both old and horrible but we created something genuinely unique. Not saying that special always means good or easy. But no matter how this turns out, if it really is autism, some other disease or nothing at all, our boy is extraordinary, the way his brain is clocked, the way he sees and assesses objects, people, concepts. I like to watch him watch the world and it's fascinating and endearing. And that is something to be happy about rather than sad or worried. He'll be an interesting human being no matter how this plays out. It won't always be easy for him to find his place in the world. But in this world, there should be a place for interesting, off-beat, difficult and lovable.