Moms & Dads

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Holding Leo's Hand: Little Big Things

Well, I thought it was a big deal. And maybe it was. Probably not, but to me...

We know that Leo, who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in June, has a good prognosis and that he's likely to progress in ways that will make us wonder whether the diagnosis was a mistake (it's not). We also know that he doesn't quite connect with others the way most 3-year-olds do -- he's hesitant to make eye contact and struggles with the concepts of sharing and taking turns. But he's doing very well. We're encouraged.

This weekend, I saw something that thrilled me. My wife was less impressed than I was, likely because she is less fearful about this whole journey than I have been. Anyway, here's what it was: We were told that autistic children tend to play with toys differently than other children. They line up their toys (Leo does that) and they use objects in ways other than intended. I remember being asked if he pretends toy planes can fly. I don't recall the answer. I thought so, but I couldn't be sure.

Well, this weekend, I was sure. Leo was playing with a toy helicopter in one hand and a truck in the other. And while he kept the truck on the floor, he held the copter in the air.

"Did you see that?" I asked my wife. She looked at me as if I'd just figured out how to tell the hot water tap from the cold. Our son is on the autism spectrum, not the idiot spectrum. Different, not less. He knows how to play with toys. What's the big deal?

I want that confidence. I want to put every achievement in a proper, "normal" perspective. I want to smile at the little things and save the "oohs and aahs," the "marvel," for the big things, like an A on a calculus test or something. There's no need to feel giddy about the fact that Leo recognizes the difference between a helicopter and a truck and adjusts his play accordingly. No reason at all.

But I'm giddy. Sue me.

If you're curious about whether your toddler might be autistic, please discuss it with your child's pediatrician.

Other articles in this series:
Holding Leo's Hand
Holding Leo's Hand: Reason to hope

Categories: Autism Spectrum (5), Rafael Olmeda 2012 (5)


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About the authors
Gretchen Day-Bryant has a son in high school and a daughter in middle school. She’s lived to tell about the struggles of juggling little kids and work.
Joy Oglesby has a preschooler...
Cindy Kent Fort Lauderdale mother of three. Her kids span in ages from teenager to 20s.
Rafael Olmeda and his wife welcomed their first son in Feb. 2009, and he's helping raise two teenage stepdaughters.
Lois Solomonlives with her husband and three daughters.
Georgia East is the parent of a five-year-old girl, who came into the world weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces.
Brittany Wallman is the mother of Creed, 15, and Lily, 7, and is married to a journalist, Bob Norman. She covers Broward County government, which is filled with almost as much drama as the Norman household. Almost.
Chris Tiedje is the Social Media Coordinator and the father of a 7-year-old girl, and two boys ages 4 and 3.
Kyara Lomer Camarena has a 2-year-old son, Copelan, and a brand new baby.

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