When her twins missed their growth milestones — sitting, standing, walking and speaking — parents, teachers, doctors and others suggested they were autistic, Paula Lynn Johnson writes on Ricochet.
Her “lifeline to sanity” was Thomas Sowell’s book, Late Talking Children. Sowell’s son, who didn’t start talking till he was 4, grew up to be a successful, non-autistic adult.
After speech therapy, Johnson’s kids began talking. But her son showed “red flags” of autism in preschool, teachers said. He didn’t want to stop building Legos and go on to the art station.
His kindergarten teacher also complained about her son’s Lego obsession.
Moreover, my son lived too much in his head, preferring to build and tinker rather than playing tag or ball with the other boys. He was clumsy. He was autistic-ish.
The school’s Child Study Team wanted to do an evaluation for autism, but the parents passed. Elementary school was tough, but he came into himself in middle school.
Academically, there were less worksheets and rote work. A lot of his teachers not only allowed, but welcomed discussion (suddenly, he was no longer “argumentative”, but “thoughtful”). He started enjoying his classes. And socially, the transition to a bigger pond with more potential friends was just what he needed. He found his tribe.
. . . they’re on the debate team and in robotics club. They like to play Risk and Magic the card game. They follow politics and like tossing around obscure movie quotes and references. You know the type. Would I call any of them socially smooth or sophisticated? No. But I wouldn’t call them autistic, either — and that includes my son. He’s empathetic and funny and engaging. He’s just taken longer than most to grow comfortable in his own skin.
“Go to a doctor, preferably a pediatric neurologist or psychiatrist who specializes in autism” for a diagnosis, rather than a special-ed teacher, Johnson advises.
She adds that shyness can be confused with autism.
For example, autistic kids often have trouble making direct eye contact and come across as socially stiff. Well, unfortunately, so do shy kids
“Professionals working for the public school system have built-in incentives to label children and put them into special programs, which often get the school system more money from the government,” she writes.
. . . if you fear the costs of “doing nothing”, consider the costs of labeling your kid with a serious neurological condition that he just doesn’t have. Read I Had Asperger Syndrome. Briefly, in which the author recounts how his mother — an “expert” in Asperger’s! — not only diagnosed him with the disorder but had him participate in an educational video about it.
As a baby, my daughter missed the major developmental milestones — by miles. Other babies were walking before she could roll over. It turned out she was developmentally weird.