Sunday, June 21, 2009

What if???

What would we think of Alex if we didn't have Joseph???

He has some interesting symptoms:

1. He self-soothes by rocking. Mostly in bed in the morning, whacking his head against the pillow over and over and over and over. Sometimes in the car when he is bored, just rocks back and forth. I've read that this is typical of adopted children, and I keep waiting for him to grow out of it, but he doesn't...

2. As a child he twirled pencils--fast--in front of his eyes. The teachers at school assumed he was copying his "autistic" brother, but Joseph never did that.

3. He loves toys that spin or that he can twirl. Still. A heavy toy at the end of a short string that can be spun in the air is his favorite.

4. His play skills are limited (way more advanced than Joseph's, mind you, but still really limited). He plays best with children several years younger. That is why latch-key after school is such a blessing. He happily plays with the first and second graders, and no one seems to mind. The teachers at latchkey understand that he is limited, and they don't push him to play with age peers.

5. He lives in a make-believe world created of television characters, not real friends. He has been at the same school for two years and has yet to be invited to a birthday party or for a playdate. He has alienated the neighborhood kids so they rarely invite him to play...

Would we think he was on the spectrum if we didn't have Joseph? Is he learning disabled, both academically and socially? Is this MR or PDD-NOS? One would never think, upon first glance, that there was a chance Alex was on the spectrum, but he has such a hard time socially... I need to look into a social skills group for him...

In the end it doesn't matter what you call it or what alphabet soup you throw at it, but it can help us as parents to know how to manage and set reasonable expectations.

Granted, in our modern world, where "autism" is the diagnosis du jour, I may be way off base, but I worry that we are not getting the services Alex needs because his symptoms are not as dramatic as Joseph's.

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