It's time to come to surface about our concerns with Andrew. Andrew, our child who we thought was going to be 100% neuro-typical, is taking a turn in the other direction. For some time, we have had some concerns. My parents who help us ALL THE TIME, have also been living this nightmare of concern about Andrew too. Do I know for sure that something is wrong with Andrew? No. But a mom knows when something is "off" with their child.
I remember very clearly posting on this blog around 6 months ago how wonderful it was to come home and to have Andrew greet me and say "Mommy" when I walked in the door. Trenton never does, that is a part of autism. The majority of children with autism are unable to show love and awareness of loved ones. Right now as I type this I am trying to recall the last time I was greeted by Andrew. I simply can not remember the last time Andrew greeted me when I came home. I can be gone all day at therapy with Trenton and when I come home, Andrew will not even acknowledge my presence. I get NOTHING!
The same goes for Tim. The last three weeks when Tim has came home after not seeing Andrew all week, Andrew showed no emotion. He barely looked up at Tim. There was no excitement, nothing. It was as if a stranger walked in the door. At one point in his life, he greeted us and we loved it and embraced it because we never received anything like that from Trenton. Now, we have two children who could care less when they see us.
Another concern about Andrew is his fixation and obsession on Cars. I am talking about the movie, Cars. Everything revolves around Cars. On some days the only word I hear out of his mouth is "Cars" and I hear it numerous upon numerous times a day. If we would let him, he would sit in front of the TV and watch Cars and Cars 2 all day long. He has to eat out of his Cars plate and bowl for every meal. I have recently took away all of his Cars pajamas. He will have a meltdown that is just as bad as Trenton when taking his Cars clothes off of him. Nana witnessed this one time and Andrew's meltdown went on for 50 minutes. Andrew goes in a rage, his pupils get big, lays on the ground kicking, screaming Cars, gets up hits toys and is in a panic stricken way.
Andrew use to worship the ground his Pops walked on. Every time he was at Nana and Pop's house he would run and greet Pops with a huge hug and say, "Pops" over and over. Now, Andrew walks in to Nana and Pop's house saying, "cars". He ignores his Nana and Pops and walks around saying, "cars" repeatedly.
Andrew's sleep pattern is becoming a big problem. I use to be able to lay him down in bed at night and be fairly confident that he would sleep til morning. Now, there is no guarantee if he will sleep. When Andrew wakes up in the night, it is not unusual for him to sit up in bed, crying, screaming, "cars". If he realizes that his Cars pj's are not on him, he goes nuts in bed kicking, screaming, trying to take off his pj's while yelling "cars". When Andrew wakes up in the morning, I am not greeted with a smile and hug while saying "Mommy" like I use too. Instead, he wakes up saying, "cars" and scurries into the living room wanting to watch Cars.
If I am not up with Trenton in the night, I am up with Andrew. While Tim is gone on training, Nana stays with me every night to help out. There have been two nights that she didn't stay and both nights I NEVER made it to bed that night. If I was not up with Trenton, I was up with Andrew.
If Andrew is not being fixated all day with Cars, he is fixated with stickers. He would sit and peel stickers off and put his stickers on the same spot over and over. Once again, this is repetitive behavior that seems to please Andrew.
Andrew's speech is behind but he can say words. I would say his speech is better now than it was a few months ago. Andrew does a lot of repeat speech and learned speech. For example, if I am leaving for the day to take Trenton to therapy I always say, "Bye Andrew." I never hear, "Bye Mommy." Instead I hear, "Bye Andrew." Don't get me wrong, sometimes he will just say "bye" but most of the time he repeats back what you just said.
When it is TV time, Tim and I would say "What do you want to watch? Elmo, Barney, or Cars?" Now, we do not have to ask this question because Andrew will ask himself. This is an example of repeated speech. Andrew can tell when it is TV time and he immediately says, "What do you want to watch? Elmo, Barney, Thomas, or Cars? Cars." He ask the question himself and answers it. It is not unusual for him to walk around the house asking himself that same question and answering it throughout the day.
Andrew knew his ABC's, count to ten, know his colors, shapes, and many other items by 18 months of age. At 18 months of age he walked around the house counting and saying ABC's before he would even say "mommy or daddy". This is the exact same behavior as Trenton.
If Andrew has seen a Sesame Street show once or Baby Einstein video once, it is not unusual for him to yell out what will happen next on the show before he sees it. For example, he will say, "lion" a few seconds before a lion is shown on TV. Once again, Trenton did this.
Andrew is very relaxed in the comfort of his own home. Sometimes it is hard to tell there is a problem when he is at home or at Nana's house. However, once you get him out of his comfort zone, he gets sucked into his own world. He rarely stops to look around him and observe his environment. Instead, he gets fixated on an object and could care less about his surroundings. This has came full circle to me at church. I will watch other kids his age and they are smiling at people, engaging with others during play, etc. Andrew does not do this. He is zoned in on his object and that is all that matters to him.
Yes, Andrew is very different from Trenton. Nonetheless, each and every child on the spectrum is different. Could a lot of this be learned behavior? Sure! I hope and pray that it is. When a family's oldest child has autism, it is very difficult for the younger children even if the younger children are neuro-typical. There is almost no chance for the other children to be 100% normal. I have read a book one time where the oldest son had autism that is very similar to Trenton and their other son had very severe OCD and ADD. It was so severe that he had autistic like characteristics. Maybe that is Andrew? Maybe Andrew just has a severe case of OCD and ADD instead of being on the spectrum.
Be all that as it may, when do you stop saying it is learned behavior and start accepting the fact that something is "off" with your other child? That is a hard question to answer. I go back and forth. If it is learned behavior then why didn't he do all of this at 18 months of age? He loved and admired Trenton then just as much as the does now. Did he learn to stop greeting his parents and loved ones? Did he learn to stop playing with his trucks and trains and just run around the house and pace the house like Trenton? He didn't learn his fixated obsession trait. Trenton does not have that trait of autism.
I could ask myself a thousand questions over and over. Despite all of that, time will tell. We just simply have to wait and see what happens with Andrew this coming year. Many children display the same characteristics as Andrew does and they eventually out grow it. I can only hope and pray that will happen to Andrew.
There is so much more I could say on this but it is late and Trenton and I are headed to Saint Louis to the doctor tomorrow. When I have time, I will continue this post on my concerns about Andrew.
I will leave you with a few pictures of concerns. These lines are Andrew's lines.