We first started noticing Danny was different around 18 months. He didn't talk at all--well, I take that back. He babbled incessantly, but didn't communicate or use any real words. He also really disliked being touched most of the time. He especially hated it when strangers touched him, but unfortunately those close to him were not exempt from his displeasure. It was unbearable. There were so many times when he got hurt or woke up in the middle of the night, crying and inconsolable. My first instinct was to hold and kiss him, which inevitably made things much worse. I remember one night just sobbing on the couch wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn't make my poor little boy feel better, that my very touch made his skin crawl. And I wondered what was wrong with him.
Of course, autism was on everyone's lips, whispered little questions posed by teachers, therapists, family members. I couldn't ignore the signs, though they were very confusing, not at all clear cut. And if you have read my blog in the last year, you will know that I was overcome with worry for him and his future.
The relief was palpable when I was told he was not autistic, but I must admit, there were times when I doubted the diagnosis. I worried the doctor had made a mistake. I don't worry about that anymore. There is no question anymore in my mind that Danny is not autistic.
Just 5 minutes ago, he spontaneously came up and said, "I love you, mom!" with a big grin on his face.
Occasionally, he will actually hug and kiss me with no prompting whatsoever. It doesn't bother him when his little friends give him hugs, though he does still bridle when a strange adult touches him (which is a problem I have as well....) He will even snuggle with me or Bil on occasion.
He actually interacts with others now. He has real conversations, though they sometimes are still peppered with quotes from videos, they make sense and are becoming more and more original communication.
He is also engaging in so much more imaginative play, which he hadn't done much of before.
There are still so many issues we struggle with. Danny still has lots of sensory issues, some of which we still haven't completely figured out. But, I cannot tell you what joy it brings when he grabs my face with his two hands and plants a kiss on my lips. Or when he pretends to tuck me in and read a story. I can tell he loves me, loves his sister and father and friends. He shows emotion and engages with people. I know these are regular things most kids do, but for a while there, they are things I didn't think Danny would ever do. I am so grateful.