As our son, Andrew (now 10), grows up, my wife and I find ourselves constantly second-guessing his actions. We started long before his diagnosis of autism and still do it today. The question is:
=> Do three-year olds act like this?
=> Do four-year olds act like this?
=> Do five-year olds act like this?
I think you get the picture.
We read every thing we could find. We knew he was way behind in speech. However, we were concerned with his social skills as well. Where should he be at this time? Should he be doing this? He shouldn’t be doing that. Honestly, we didn’t know. Andrew is our first. He doesn’t have an older brother, so we didn’t have a benchmark to follow.
For much of what we did, we watched how his friends acted, pressing Andrew to follow suit. Andrew do this. Andrew do that. Our goal was to improve his behavior. Many times, though, I think we just stressed him out. Ourselves, as well.
Then, we had Christopher.
Worried that Christopher might have the same issues as Andrew, we were ultra-conservative about everything, especially the potential that mercury in vaccines may be linked to autism. Our doctor had told us that mercury was no longer used in vaccines, but we took no chances. We split up all of Christopher’s vaccinations. When the state inspector filed a report at the daycare saying that Christopher was behind his vaccine requirements, we filed the proper paperwork to allow us to continue at our pace.
Christopher seemed to be proceeding along as he should. As he continued progressing, we knew he wouldn’t have the same issues as his older brother. He hit his benchmarks.
Then the misbehavior started.
Christopher started acting up and acting out. He was, in the typical phrase, all boy. And as we watched and disciplined him, we noticed things we hadn’t thought about concerning Andrew. Andrew has speech and social issues. Yet, things that we thought were due to Andrew’s autism were not necessarily so. Many of his actions were perfectly normal for a kid his age.
Yet, it took our younger son to teach us that.
I would love to hear about similar situations from other parents of children with special needs. Let’s discuss it here.
For those of you who are interested, please click on the words mercury-autism debate for more on the discussion.
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