(especially if we had a “perfect” sibling) because our parents did it to us and
we hated it (unless of course you were the “perfect” sibling). And just like our
parents, we fail. From the moment we feel the first flutters of baby number 2,
the comparisons with the brother or sister that came before them begins. Birth
Poor Ryan. Had he known what it would be like to follow in the foot steps of
his big brother Kyle, whom to this day I call, “Angel Boy”, he probably would
have opted to stay in the womb. Kyle is 3 years older than Ryan and honestly he
came out perfect. Beautiful thick black hair that the nurses continued to comb,
brush, gel, etc while in the nursery. He was calm and peaceful and he continued
to have a happy disposition until the teen years. I fell head over heels in
When you find out you are pregnant with your second child, your first
instinct is sheer panic. How could you possibly love another child as much as
the first?! As every mom with more than one kid knows, there is enough love in
your heart for each and every child, however, try telling that to a huge,
hormonal 9 month pregnant woman and you may get knocked on your a**.
Ryan came out of the womb angry and when I say angry I mean pi*#ed off.
Maybe it was a rough entry since he came out all red, blotchy and squished. No
beautiful black hair on this boy. He resembled his father’s baby pictures
(large, round, bald head…think Uncle Fester) which I had always abused him
about. Which was why it was funny when his still large headed father said, “Wow,
I sure hope he shapes up!” If I’m being AWEnest, he was not a cute baby, not at
first anyway, but, oh how I loved that squishy faced boy. Even when the
lactation consultant compared his incredulous "latch on" strength to a barracuda
(Wiki says "Barracudas kill and consume large prey by tearing chunks of flesh."
Sounds about right) my love did not falter.
For a kid with sensory issues, the womb was probably the happiest place he
has ever been…dark, quiet, alone. Good thing he can’t remember (at least I hope
he can’t) or he may start researching the possibility of going back. He weighs
92 pounds and is almost as tall as me. Need I say more?
My nickname for Ryan (along with Zoot, yeah, Angel Boy and Zoot…he doesn’t
seem to mind since we have no idea what a Zoot is) was “fussy baby” because
compared to Kyle who rarely ever cried, whined, etc. he was fussy. My friends
with colicky, screaming babies all hated me as I used this term for Ryan because
he truly wasn’t “fussy baby” he was just demanding. Once he got what he wanted,
fussy baby was happy. The problem was figuring out what he wanted. In some
ways it still is today.
All the autism websites (believe me, I’ve seen them all many, many times)
list various traits for autism in infants. They may arch their back to avoid
touch, they may make little to no eye contact when being fed and often there is
the “absence of normal development”. Ryan was snuggled and cuddled all the time.
In fact, I’ve been accused by friends of being pregnant for two years since I
carry them in my womb for 9 months then carry them in my arms for the next
year. Ryan did not arch away from my snuggles, but rarely did he wrap his
chubby arms around me. He always looked and smiled while I nursed him,
but, he was most content when he was in his crib with his musical toy…alone…not
being snuggled or fussed over. Sorry Dr. Richard Ferber, your methods were
not needed for this boy.
Some parents with autistic children describe a normal development and then
almost over night, the child regresses or as some parents say, their child
“disappeared.” This was not the case with Ryan. The first sign (which of course
at the time we didn’t know was a “sign”) was actually hysterical. Being the
fabulous parents that we are, instead of recognizing it as a problem, we laughed
and called our sweet boy “Rainman”. (Is anyone contacting CYS ?) When I
would carry Ryan down the steps, he would mimic to a tee the noise of my feet
hitting each and every step “eh, eh, eh, eh…”. We now know he has perfect pitch,
a rare feat in the neurotypical world, but not so much in the world of autism.
Chances are, those “eh, eh, eh, eh” noises were identical to the sound of my
feet hitting the steps and he could vary the sound and pitch perfectly depending
on if I had on Nike’s or Jimmy Choo’s (I don’t own Jimmy Choo's, but thought it
would be nice to pretend for a minute). “Rainman” was mean, but AWEnest and
Along with this uncanny mimicking skills, Ryan’s speech was“off”. Of course
when “Angel Boy” brother was speaking in full sentences at 12 months, anything
later would seem “off”. No problems saying words, he just sounded more like a
parrot than a boy. The correct term for this is echolalia and it is typical for
early speech development, but Ryan’s was extreme and went on much too long to be
considered “typical”. To this day I still say “want for snack?” when I ask the
kids what they would like for a snack. I don’t know if it’s endearing or if it’s
PTSD. Honestly, EVERY time I would say, “Ryan, what do you want for a snack?" he
would never say what he wanted he would just respond with “want for snack”. At
first it was cute, then after the 10th,“No, what do YOU want for a snack?”, and
he responded with, “No what do YOU want for a snack?" (exact same intonation) it
became infuriating and I distinctly remember a moment when I was banging me head
off the pantry doors and praying the men in the white suits would come take me
to a comfy padded room.
My little parrot could recite and mimic every Thomas the Tank Engine episode
he had ever watched (including the facial expressions which was kind of creepy),
he could count to 30 by the time he was 18 months old and on his second birthday
when he got alphabet magnets he knew every single letter without any of us ever
teaching him. “Wow, he might be smarter than Kyle!!” If that’s the case, then
Ryan must be gifted!! I began wondering if it would be Harvard or Yale. Our very
own Einstein, whom by the way, experts now believe probably fell somewhere on
the autism spectrum, but during those days, you weren’t autistic, you were a
Eventually, the comparisons were no longer just between Kyle and Ryan, but between
Ryan and all the kids in his daycare, neighborhood kids and my friends’ kids.
The gap was getting wider and wider and I was becoming crazier and crazier.
Crazy and Google are a VERY dangerous combination.
The moment I knew….