Saturday, October 23, 2010

Parenthood Paranoia

Elliott has been a dream child. He wears out his grandpa-like dad and mother-like mother because he is on the go from the time he wakes up until after we'd like to be asleep. He's even foregoing naps of more than about 20 minutes. He's never been sick (knock on wood), not even a cold, since he was born even though we've all had our turns at being ill in one way or another. He understands Ruth and I regardless of whether we speak to him in English or Spanish and his vocabulary at 18 months included words from both languages with almost an equal number from American Sign Language.
...................Elliott with Lego phone

Little by little over the past month it seemed as though these words were going away and everything seemed to be replaced with his pointing at something and saying "teen". He also seemed to be a bit indifferent to my presence. I was noticing but not really processing it until Ruth mentioned about four days ago that Elliott's language seemed to be regressing and that there were some other behavioral things that concerned her. I said I thought the same thing. I woke up at about 2AM Wednesday morning and fired up the laptop and googled "language regression" or something similar. I learned that nineteen months of age is the median age for language loss related to autism. I didn't read much beyond that. I felt an unfamiliar wave of devastation come over me. I woke Ruth up and neither one of us slept much more than an hour before morning.

I made an appointment with the pediatrician for Friday and Ruth began some intense infant interaction and documentation. She worked at prompting him to produce words that we knew that he had been using. She was encouraged by her day with him. I played some hide and seek with him and when he would find me or I would find him he would run up and hug me around the legs.

I had read at some point that older parents, children born between October and March who had jaundice at birth were more likely to have autism. I also remembered reading at some point about other characteristics of the disease and I know that Elliott hadn't been exhibiting any of those traits. We started to review his behavior and nothing was alarming. We felt a bit more at ease.

We felt more at ease once we met with the pediatrician and after answering his questions and recounting our observations he declared with lots of confidence that Elliott was a healthy normal child. We had been letting a little cartoon called Pocoyo that we stumbled upon on Youtube and Sesame Street entertain him so that we could attend to household chores,etc. He seemed to enjoy them and was mesmerized. Although he enjoyed the video input it was only a receptive (in)activity. We wonder if we were just letting him get away with his one word. We've engaged him continually for all of his long waking hours and when he's said "teen" for something we've made sure to state the word for whatever it was. It would be convenient to think he's been saying "thing" but I don't think so.

This morning he wanted to go outside. While in the driveway, I said, "Let's go to the mail box." He started off toward it with me in tow. I lifted him up to open it. "Nada," he said, Spanish for "nothing". What's wrong with Elliott? Nada.


  1. Isn't it amazing how being a parent makes you hyper-sensitive and paranoid about everything?! I know I am guilty of constantly worrying, and not enjoying the moment and what she can do, versus what she can't do, as much as I should, with Sam. Eliot sound like a really smart kiddo! Interesting that you think it's the TV that caused his little regression... We used to watch TV all the time. Now it's pretty much turned off all the time, and I'd certainly like to keep it that way! Amazing, and a bit scary, how mesmerized kids are by it.