ANNIE’S STORY – PART ONE OF TWELVE
My husband was out-of-town, Annie was zonked out for the night, and I was too restless to fall asleep. Annie had been really sick for the last four months. I had developed insomnia because I spent my nights battling a nagging feeling that “something wasn’t right” with Annie.
I turned on Supernanny in order to veg out and calm my racing mind. Little did I know, that Supernanny episode would mark the last time I was able to take a deep breath for the next four years.
The episode was about a family who had a son with autism. They didn’t show many clips of the little boy. Instead, the importance of routines, schedules, and rewards/consequences were emphasized. At the end of the show, a warning flashed on the screen.
Autism is rising at alarming rate.
Early intervention is key.
The 3 main signs of autism are:
- Delays/deficits in communication
- Delays/deficits in social skills
- Repetitive behaviors or movements.
“Hmmm – Annie met all 3 of those criteria but she doesn’t have autism,” I thought to myself. I studied autism in college and Annie did not fit the definition I remembered.
But that voice in my head wouldn’t let me go to sleep. My computer was calling my name. I got up and googled the word autism. The more I read, the more I realized maybe I had stumbled on the reason for Annie’s recent and dramatic change in behavior and personality.
Was autism the reason she stopped speaking to us? Was autism the reason she could stack toys on her Chicken Elmo doll or take crayons in and out of the box for hours on end? Was autism the reason why she had changed from being the child in the center of the action at the playground to having a melt down at the mere suggestion of going to the park?
I had to know more. I took every autism quiz I could get my hands on. As I realized that Annie exhibited almost every symptom of autism, I’m pretty sure I had an “out-of-body experience.” All the blood drained to my feet. I felt like I floated out of my body and was watching a shell of my former self madly typing away on the computer.
It was now two in the morning and there was nobody I could call. Should I wake my husband and ruin his business trip? Should I scare my mom to death by calling in the middle of the night? I decided to suffer alone. It was the longest night of my life. I shed many, many tears. I knew this was the start of my new life. Nothing would ever be the same again.
For Part 2 of Annie’s Story: https://ventography.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/the-prequel/