This is the first post in a series to share our story.
Looking back (hindsight is 20/20) I can see a lot of "red flags" for autism in our twins from infancy. Some we didn’t recognize as anything out of the ordinary. We were first-time parents and didn’t have much of a basis for comparison to know what was “typical” and what wasn’t. Other things we knew were not typical, but assumed that they were related to prematurity.
Cuddlebug and Bearhug were often extremely difficult to console when upset. They were both easily overstimulated from day one (still are). They both flapped their hands / arms pretty frequently. We thought it was cute and assumed it was either a bird imitation (they liked birds, especially Bearhug) or an enthusiastic greeting. When we thought it was a greeting, we flapped back in response :).
They had difficulty sleeping, and didn’t really start sleeping through the night until they were a year old. Even when they were sleeping longer stretches into the night, getting them to settle down to sleep in the evening was pretty difficult. They always seemed to be “wired.” I can remember many nights when they were still running in circles around the living room at 3am, while dh and I struggled to stay awake (and often fell asleep on the couch). We had some strategies to help them settle down at bedtime, but it was kind of hit or miss.
They often didn’t play with toys appropriately. They did fine with simple mechanical toys, but had little interest in pretend-play toys. They might roll cars and trains around briefly, but they preferred to turn them upside down and spin the wheels. In fact, anything that had wheels – their stroller, riding toys, etc. – was quickly turned over so they could spin the wheels, and that could hold their interest for quite a while.
They were extremely hyperactive, and from the time they first became mobile it was a challenge to try to keep up with them. As soon as they could roll, they were rolling all over our apartment to see what they could get into. Once they could stand they soon moved to climbing and nothing was safe. Walking was quickly followed by running, usually in two different directions.
We assumed the activity level was typical boy stuff, but were concerned at their apparent lack of any sense of danger. They had no fear of getting separated from us, and often tried to wander off. I noticed with a twinge of envy that other moms at the park could sit and visit, while I ran myself ragged trying to keep both boys within arms reach (or at least within a 1-2 second dash range) in case one of them took off (knowing I’d have to grab one before I could chase the other, or risk him running off while I caught up with his brother). Safety was (and still is) a major concern.
Probably the most noticeable sign though, was lack of communication skills. This became more and more evident as they moved into the toddler stage.
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