Regressive autism is strange. One day Kirsten is there, talking, looking me in the eye, even joking. And the next day she is gone. So where did she go???
How could it be that the child that was, is no more?
I have a vivid memory of Kirsten, 2-1/2 years old, teasing me. Yes, teasing me! you see, I had this musical carousel horse that she knew was special. And with a sparkle in her eye, she gives me this little sideways glance, grins an says, “That’s Kirrrsten’s hooorsey!” Me: “Noooo. That’s mommy’s horsey!” K: “That’s daaaddy’s hooorsey!” What a sense of humor! At 2-1/2?!!!
Oooh, to imagine the things to come.
Of course, all this was gone just months later. No more sparkle, no more teasing, no more smile. Just gone. Replaced with this beautiful girl that appeared to be in her own little world. Language down to rare, difficult-to-understand, single-word requests:
K: “Awel.” Me: “Awel?” K” “Awel.” Me: “Awel?” K: frustration! Me: “I’m sorry honey. I know it’s hard. Say it again. I’ll get it!” K: “Awpel.” Me: “Apple! You want an apple?!” Got it…
And this was life, with the exception of an amazing, albeit brief, reprieve:
Right in the midst of these initial days, a little fair came to town. Kirsten and I headed off for some mind-off-it activity. We jumped onto the Ferris Wheel and settled in for a ride. It went up and up and up… and just as we headed over the top, fear – anxiety – joy – excitement… whatever it was kicked in. Kirsten, my nearly-non-verbal little girl, held me tight while loudly and rapidly repeating, “I love you! I love you! I love you! I love you!” Wait, whaaat?!! Best moment ever!
I knew she was still in there! I knew it!!!
And although this burst of language didn’t last beyond the Ferris Wheel, I took it for exactly what it was …the promise of great things to come.
Your turn! How has your child surprised you?