“My Story…” Monday: A – Making a Friend

(You can catch up on A’s story right here: The Pregnancy, The Birth, The Infancy, The Quiet Toddler, Advocating, What He COULD Do, Just A Boy, The (Hard) Next Step)

 

I was so eager to get my little boy back.  And I couldn’t wait to hear how his day had gone.  I, of course, would have loved a detailed report of every little thing he did and discovered but, in fact, what I got was a “He did fine.  He had a pretty good first day.  I think he’s going to like it here just fine.”

 

Hmmm.  Well, that was alright, I guess.  And, really, that’s what I’d wanted.  But mommies (and grandmas) always seem to like to know all the little details, don’t we?

 

A. did do fine in preschool.  Fine. That’s all.  He didn’t make waves, but he didn’t make friends.  Not necessarily unusual for a two-year old but, still, a little disappointing for me.  The teachers didn’t really understand sign language, but I have to give them credit for trying.  They certainly didn’t ignore him.  He was doing fine.  And so was I.  That’s it.  I wasn’t really “happy” with the decision I’d made, nor was I upset.  I was simply, well, fine with it.

 

And then something happened.

 

I met another mommy.

 

Standing off on the sidelines while the children had free-play at the end of the day, I watched A. take a tumble and his big blues welled up.  He immediately sought me out (of course) and I comforted him by singing (and signing) a song about animals in the sea.  Happy again, he wandered off to play.  The mother next to me turned and asked, “Is he deaf?”

 

I had been asked this question before.  Many times.  But this time was different.  This was something new. This time… the person asking the question was deaf.

 

Perry was a total delight and she and I became fast friends.  She and her husband, who I learned was also deaf, were the parents of a sweet little girl named E. (who was hearing) in A’s class.  While my son was not in fact deaf, he certainly loved having another person around who could understand his sign language.  And E’s father was thrilled to have his daughter hanging out with our little guy since her signing was improving by leaps and bounds.  It was a total win-win.

With none-too-subtle nudges from their mommies (because this is what we do with toddlers, to be honest), these two little ones became buddies.  My sweet A. had a friend.  So did I.  I learned more and more about signing each day and Perry (who had a cochlear implant) relied on me to do things she’d never been able to do… like take her daughter on a slide.

 

The long summer days wore on and I settled in to our twice-a-week preschool routine.  I was happy with our therapist and happy with the school.  My days were full and my hands were too.  I smiled and laughed with my precious children and had many happy days…

But at night, I would lie awake and worry.  My son was over 2 1/2 years old and still didn’t talk.  He was the size of a 4 year old and totally nonverbal.  Added to that, his eye contact was inconsistent at best and he had some sensory issues.  Seeds planted by others took root in my mind and started to bloom.  The fear burned and festered and, finally, I made the phone call.

 

I called the autism center in our  children’s hospital and scheduled an evaluation.

 

I wasn’t sure what I hoped to find out.

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