Little things adding up...

by Tracy
(New York)

When our son was born, he never slept like most babies. He slept through the night early, at just 6 weeks, but from about 6AM until about 11PM he never slept at all. As a first time Mom, I figured it was probably me being overly sensitive or not doing something right. Eventually we learned that the motion of the car put him to sleep. Every day for many moons we took a long car ride midday in order to get him a nap (and a break for Mom and Dad). We ate up a lot of gas, but it was worth it. We would have paid anything for a few minutes of rest and peace. Lots of parents have stories about riding kids around to put them to sleep. We put it behind us.

As a kid, I loved my swing and little jumper. My son never really enjoyed his. I never understood it. Still, no biggie, right? I chalked it up and moved on.

Out little man learned to talk early. He is now 3 going on 4, and uses words / phrases most kids his age would not, and uses them correctly. As a toddler he not only identified animals, but specifics. That's not a whale, it's a Humpback whale! His teachers at daycare all said how advanced he was.

At home, he preferred being naked to wearing clothes. He asked us (and still asks us) to cut all the tags out of his clothes, and cries if we don't, holding them away from his skin. He doesn't like the feel of socks on his feet, especially if they're pulled to tight over his toes. He is always complaining his shoes are on too tight, or hurt, and if his socks don't come between the shoes and his skin, he hates it. He cries if we try to put on clothes with buttons, or high necks. In the fall, he hates long sleeves and pants, although he gets used to them after we force the issue for a bit. He'd much rather wear shorts and t-shirts all the time. Just crazy kid growing-up stuff, right?

Potty training has been a long process. He got out of diapers relatively fast, but won't transition to grown-up potties. Why? The fans in public restrooms mostly. Flushing is not allowed while he's in the room. An auto-flush toilet once traumatized him to the point of screaming bloody murder. I literally thought someone was going to call the police. It took him nearly half an hour to calm back down. We tried to put his port-o-potty in a public restroom for him once at a rest stop while travelling. It was a family one and quiet, but the entry was right between the entries to the men and women rooms with the hand dryers. He pressed his hands over his ears, cried, yelled "Get me out of here!!!" and ran and shook for several minutes. Now we bring his potty in the car everywhere we go, and he goes potty in the back of my SUV with an umbrella protecting him (and others) from view. Is he just being silly? Are we being too accommodating? Is this normal?

Baths... he loves baths. Hates having his hair washed. Normal kid stuff right? Except at some point he stopped liking bubble bath as much. He'll play in it, but doesn't like it sitting on his skin. he swipes at it and gets really frustrated and cries.

Getting his hair cut is a trial. Experiences have ranged from controlled fear to total freak out. As much as possible, mommy just does it while he's in the bath. He won't let me brush his hair. Daddy can, but only with a certain brush.

Brushing teeth. He's great at it! Loved the toddler tooth paste. Now we're changing over to the non baby type, and he freaks out because

it causes foam in his mouth.

He's shy with big crowds, even if they are people he knows or relatives. Hides behind Mommy and Daddy. Wants to be picked up. Wants to sit on the outside, away from the crowds.

In bed, he needs to be under a blanket (including his head) in order to go to sleep. Usually with a pillow over the blanket. We use a camera system and I've often crept back in to pull away blankets or lift pillows to be sure he can breathe. He needs his back rubbed, or scratched or both when going to sleep. The more tired he gets, the harder it is to get him to wind down. But we've found a routine, and routine is KEY. He likes routine. Exact routine. So that helps. Some.

He's never liked french fries or mashed potatoes. He hates the texture. Sometimes he'll fill his mouth with something, then spit it out. But that's normal kid stuff for sure. Right?

He wants to be tickled, or touched, or scratched, all the time. Likes to cuddle, climb on me until he's hurting me. Loves to rough house with daddy. Likes to climb on things, and jump off things. Falls down on purpose a lot. Complains over every little scratch, bump and needs band-aids, but can only leave them on for a few minutes before he wants them off his skin. Every kid must go through that phase, right?

Outside, he doesn't like the winter. What kid doesn't like the winter? The wind scares him. He cries. Buries his face against us and shakes. Has never liked the wind. Is that a little weird? Maybe it's just a kid thing.

He loves to yell, and growl, and scream, and roar, and stomp, and jump off things, and pound his toys against everything.

He loves to watch the same shows and movies over and over and over until I can literally say every single line with the characters I've seen it so much.

Are we still in the normal range here? Is this more than normal kid stuff? Should I worry about an autism spectrum issue? I know enough about it to be cautious and alert, but he's great with speech, and makes eye contact just fine, and so maybe I'm just being paranoid, right?

Onward. Most recently I've been concerned because he likes to scratch, and dig his nails into his friends at school and into Mom and Dad. No amount of lost privileges, time outs, or other punishments seem to work. He has left marks on us from pinching, biting, scratching. He likes to grab my fingers and twist them. I told my husband that I really think he's going to break one of my fingers at some point. I'm not sure he understands it, except now he's said, "I'm going to break your finger, Mommy." Is this normal? Is it just learning empathy? Should I be more worried?

As you might infer from the title of this entry, all the little things that have seemed like fairly normal or kid-quirky stuff since he was born seem to be adding up. Reading this, and seeing how MANY are true was really eye-opening. All those things that individually seem like nothing, seem normal, really seem like a lot in hind sight.

I asked him today, "You know how you hate those dryers in the bathrooms? What do they sound like to you?"
He said, "An elephant screaming. It hurts my ears a lot. It's really, really loud."


For those of you like me who are probably questioning but not really sure, tally things up. Ask questions. I'm thinking, even if he doesn't have this, it can't hurt me to help him work through some of these things. If he does have it, I think I'll be really glad I erred on the side of caution.

--One Mom among many

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