It all started with a sneeze. Yup, I sneezed and from the back of the car we heard "bless you"! I quickly replied "thank you", then with shock and excitement Gabe said "Mom! Addie just said that!"
Wait, what?! Seriously?!
That's right Addie the first words we heard clear as a bell..."bless you". It's truly fitting that these were your first words, seeing how blessed we are to have you. I'll absolutely never forget everything about that very moment...
A.) YOU WERE TALKING!!!!!!!!
B.) IT WAS A SOCIALLY APPROPRIATE RESPONSE!
It was in this moment we knew you were present and with us! You were still struggling with engagement and language yes, but you knew everything that was going on around you. You knew more than we or most people thought you did!
You see Addie, there's a lot of misconceptions of people on the spectrum. A very common one being, they are not smart and will never equate to much in life.
I can whole heartedly tell you...this is False, with a big fat F!
Have you ever heard of Dan Aykoyrd - Actor, comedian, producer, screenwriter, musician, Tim Burton - Film director, film producer, writer, artist, or Temple Grandin - An American professor of animal science at Colorado State University and world-renowned autism spokesperson? Well you're only 5 so probably not, but I'm sure others would be surprised to know they are all on the spectrum. It's even been said that Andy Warhol (he's a hugely famous artist Addie) was often thought of being on the spectrum as well! He's best known for painting a amazing masterpiece of soup cans! Yes, soup cans. Can you believe that?! The simple, repeating pattern defined an entire era of art! Isn't that cool? I like to think that when I see you lining up books or little people, you're just channeling your inner Andy Warhol ;)
At a very young age (about 2yo), I remember daddy sitting watching you use the iPad. Somewhat in shock, he called me into the room to observe what you were doing. Not only could you navigate the screen with such ease, but you also seemed to be following the voice commands to identify different shapes with almost perfect accuracy! How did you know all this? They weren't easy either! To this day you can still amazingly identify the difference between a hexagon, pentagon and octagon...not something I see many 5yr olds do ;)
It's true, we've seen our fair share of Developmental Pediatricians and Neurologists and they often have the same analogy about the functions of the brain...it's our very own computer operating system.
I like to think your operating system is working in overdrive as a MAC (or insert whatever the latest and greatest computer is) taking in EVERY SINGLE THING around you! Filing it away for some other day. While the rest of us are still navigating a 1st generation Apple desktop. Not a bad thing, just not exactly the same speed, if you get what I mean.
For example, it's kinda like when I meet someone for the first time, but then don't see them again for 7 months. Their name has been effectively filed away, but then without any warning there they are striking up a conversation with me in the middle of the grocery store. I'm literally smiling and nodding feverishly going through my archived files in my head. Where did I put that name again?!?!
You have A LOT of files! That's why you love routine and consistency...less digging through archives ;)
I remember when you were first discovering language. If we would say "OK let's go to bed!" You're response would be (in this order every time) "bye - bye, see you soon, good nights, all done" you knew that essentially the day was done and you were going to bed. Having gone through your files that easily equated to those words. Therefore, if you just said them all, your bases were covered. Pretty efficient actually! Today you'll find I usually prompt you how to respond to people and then you'll repeat it. Perhaps its just my way of helping you refresh your "social" files.
We do have our rough days, when you get stressed out with too much auditory and visual sensory stimuli. I like to think this is the equivalent of just having too many screens open on your desk top! Kind of annoying and frustrating and you eventually get to a point where you just need to clear it! You will need your space to work through closing down all the windows (you'll usually go to your bedroom), but eventually you'll finish the task at hand and be elated to find your home screen again. That's when you come back to join us :)
I truly believe you were not only blessed to us to share your joy, but also to teach us there is so much more than the floppy discs we've been running our lives with. Maybe your operating system is teaching us that it's so important to think outside the box and we don't all have to fit a particular mold!
I can't wait to see how you'll leave your mark in this world Addie!
So keep taking it all in and filing it away!
I love you.