Thursday, July 17, 2014

Half a Year!

Pippin is 6 months now, and I'm floored by how quickly the time has flown. Merry's first six months seemed to creep by in a happy baby daze, but although the joy has been no less intense, the time has gone so much faster! Now that this thought is actually verbalized, I can see how obvious a revelation it is, (more kids to care for = time moving faster) but it's a side effect of kid #2 that I hadn't considered before.

Also like every other parent in the history of forever, I spend too much time comparing my second child with my first. But in any family with a kid on the spectrum, the analysis of that new baby has a sharper, more desperate and anxious note. The statistics are scary, and siblings of kids with ASD have a higher chance of being on the spectrum; I've seen as high as 1 in 5. 

From the very beginning, Pippin has been a reassuring baby. He smiled and laughed much earlier than Merry, who hit those milestones a bit later but not quite in the "talk to your doctor" range. Pip makes excellent eye contact, and although he isn't babbling yet, he's plenty talkative in early baby coos, ahhhs, and shrieks. Shrieks are a fun learning phase, aren't they? Baby's all "Ohhh, what a fun sound I've discovered, and look how everyone jumps when I make it!"

So I was feeling much better about the ASD cloud over our heads when this article came out. It's an excellent, moving piece on autism, about a boy and his family who learned how to connect and communicate through Disney movies. But it was also the first time I'd heard of regressive autism, how normally developing children can lose the ability to talk or make eye contact, changing from a bright, talkative toddler to become withdrawn, anxious, and uncommunicative. 

The return of the fear was a punch to the gut. Not out of the woods after all! Three years of watching, comparing, knowing that the sword is hanging over our heads.

Merry never went through a period of regression, his social and communication skills simply stopped following the normal development. And the fear that lurks in the background isn't so much that Pip will follow Merry's development. It's the deeper more ancient fear of the changeling, of autism spiriting away this beautiful happy baby and replacing him with a stranger.

For now I try not to focus on it, not to dwell. There's too much to enjoy, too many happy baby giggles, sweet smiles and chubby legs to kiss. Too many adorable brother hugs, shared laughter and peekaboos to let future troubles cast shadows that may never be. 

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