My first clue that I gave my child autism came when she was in the middle of an evaluation by a speech-language pathologist at two and a half years of age. The therapist had noted that her eye contact was poor, but acceptable for her age.
“Oh,” I explained, looking straight at my lap, “Well, that’s probably a learned behavior. We just don’t really ‘do’ eye contact in our little family. I’ve never been much of an eye contact type.”
The speech therapist bit her lip.
The same pattern was played out time and time again as we danced between physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, neurologists, psychologists, and teachers.
“No, she’s not potty-trained, but I still had accidents all the way into second grade. It just runs in the family.”
“Hyperlexia? Yeah, she’s a great reader. My family is full of early readers.”
“Picky eating is just something she got from me. I don’t like food much. And as a kid, I would completely flip out if someone tried to make me eat with a spoon or eat foods that had touched each other on my plate. No big deal.”
“Clumsiness runs in the family. I couldn’t ride my bike until I was eight, so the motor delays are just in her DNA, that’s all.”
“Oh, sure, she won’t wear her pants correctly, but that’s just another thing she got from me. You should have seen how I use to shriek if someone put a turtleneck on me!”