Isolation Breeds “Normal” Behavior


Little Man has just been excelling at his ABA. He makes eye contact, he looks when you call his name, he’s sharing, he’s pointing, he’s describing the world around him through the use of sign language. When the child development specialist came to the house for her last assessment before we move; she said he’s above average in cognitive abilities, problem solving, fine motor skills…etc. But that he is still at a 20-24 month level for communication (he’s still none-verbal). “All in all” she said, “it means he’s average.” She meant this in a good way. She was trying to say that his Autism “wasn’t that bad” and that he had made enough progress to almost seem “normal.”

I wasn’t happy with this. It burned a hole in my chest to hear the term “average” and “normal.” I don’t appreciate being lied to, comforted with false hope, or given claims of grandeur that are not earned. Don’t get my hopes up like that. But, of course, being a mother; was immediately hopeful for his future. I thought “he has a chance.” Then, we went to a friend’s for dinner; and reality bitch-slapped me in the face. He was so distracted by their dog, that he wouldn’t listen to his name. He was so enthralled with their big plastic house, that he wouldn’t turn his head when I called him. When we got inside and discovered that the little girl had a close-able baby gate AND stairs up to her bed…I lost him. I spent what was supposed to be a night with friends; walking after him to make sure he didn’t fall down the stairs, help him get the gate to stay open while he pushed the stroller over it, get out of his way while he closed the gate, turn around…and do it all again. It instantly became a ritual, one that he could not be persuaded to stop. Not for food, not for other toys, nothing.

This series of events was excruciating to not only me, but my husband as well. All of the “progress” he had made and all of the “normal” we thought we had; was an illusion. His “normal” behavior only took place at home because it was familiar. “Why can’t you just socialize him at people’s houses and get used to new surroundings?” I hear people asking me. “Oh, well, glad you asked *clears throat* that would be because; NO ONE WANTS US OVER!” I am being 1000% truthful when I tell you that the friend I just mentioned is the ONLY friend I have that has not only come over to our house for dinner, but has also had us over for dinner, SINCE MY SON WAS DIAGNOSED WITH AUTISM! NOT KIDDING! And the two dinners we are talking about? happened one weekend and again the next. That’s it. No other dinner plans, nothing. Every time I try and make a play date, people have an excuse. Every time I try and set up a lunch or dinner, people have an excuse. But I digress.

Little Man seemed normal, because he was comfortable, he knew what to expect and when, at home. And now; we are moving in a little over a week. His world is about to crash to the Earth, and I have no way of stopping it. I can slow it down a little, but not stop it. This move is also, not just down the road; it’s across the f*cking country. I hope he doesn’t give up on signing. I hope he tries to communicate all the way there. I hope that when we get there, he gets a fantastic new therapist (ABA) to work with. I hope he feels “normal” and safe again in the new home. But truthfully; I am scared shitless.


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