Something I have always been aware of as a parent is that all children are different and comparing them developmentally is a ticket into worry-wart-land....Then Autism knocked on our door and that sentiment became a mantra. An anthem against unnecessary heartache and an exercise in acceptance, practicing the art of celebrating every single tiny step forward. It slows you down and forces you to smell the roses, to appreciate even the briefest of moments of your child's hauntingly beautiful unique eyes meeting yours. Savoring every word, every spark of communication, be that verbal or non-verbal. We're not picky. We're starved for those moments of precious interaction, no mater how fleeting.
So it's also really hard to not developmentally compare Autism to Autism. When you have a six year old Autistic child that has been receiving treatment since he was one, and you look over at his one year old brother and see an echo of the past, comparing turns into a compulsion. I thought I had gotten past the agonizing question marks. I though as a seasoned Autism parent, it would be easier if I had to go down that path again.
A path I was prepared to travel as a condition of having another child.
Well it's not easier.
I doubt myself all the time. Again repeating scenes I've already lived. "Maybe his hearing is impaired..." "Maybe he is just picking up on what his big brother does..." "Maybe I'm so wrapped up in Autism, I'm projecting the things I'm seeing..." "Maybe it's all in my head..."
No. When you see your baby doing things his brother used to do when he was the same age, but no longer does, it stops being a repeat and starts being another journey. Down that foggy uncertain path that you are familiar with but can never truly be adept at walking because its always changing. And the fog is so thick it makes it hard to see more than a step or two ahead of you. No matter how long you walk it, it always feels like you're a little lost.
So with 5 years of Autism parenting under my belt I have to stop, take a breath and realize...I'm a NEW Autism parent...again. I'm going in with skills and experience that will certainly help but that doesn't change the fact that this is Finnigin's journey, not Emerson's. The comparing developmental milestones thing is a habit I have to break and may be harder than anything I've ever tried to give up in my life.
But fresh eyes is what he needs. The me I was when I was terrified for is brother, was a more diligent Autism mom, than the one I am today. Don't get me wrong I work so hard with Finnigin just as I did with Emerson, and still do, but there was a desperation that first go around, fueled by love but also fear. Is he missing out? Is he getting less of me, like having me as his Autism parent isn't new but a handme down version of what he should get?
I could let questions like this eat me up for an eternity... Or I can decide to draw a line of distinction between my two sons. They have different strengths and different weaknesses. And my parenting of them will be different, just as it is for their big sister. It already is so different with Finnigin, but I will go ahead and admit to y'all the unexpected benefit of going through this again: Baby Autism really is a joy! I never EVER would have believed I would miss that crazy baby Autism babble. It just makes me remember how joyous it sounds...Or when I find cars lined in a rainbow row...or when I see him study something for ages and finally figure it out...or the unhindered innocence of the non-verbal child.
All of those things are cherished memories. I just had to have them repeated to realize it.
Repetition serves them well. Turns out it's beneficial for me too.