After that incident Sarah seemed to slow down. Her passion for reading (book was her first word even before mommy) ebbed, though it didn't entirely disapear, her responses were slower and she began to develop immediate echolalia as she got a bit older. The poor thing would respond to us by repeating what we had just said to her, like "come here Sarah" and then that was it.
In our ignorance, her mother and I thought she was being willful, that being a normal trait in both our families, but it kept up...and my poor daughter would continue to repeat our commands to come here (or whatever it was at the moment) with increasing tears. She knew that a response was in order, but what that response was supposed to be, she could not fathom. Oh the scenes this sometimes produced.
When she was about 2 we enrolled her into the nursery school where my ex wife worked. Right about this time was when my then wife was becoming my ex wife. I'd get phone calls from her saying that something was wrong, our daughter was not doing well in her class as far as she was observing and suspected that she was autistic. I didn't take this very seriously. For one, my ex wife had a tendency to be read about a disorder and then think she had it and she had just recently been reading up on autism. So I poo pooed it. Her boss did as well. But after awhile the two women who were my daughter's teachers began to suspect that my ex was right.
One afternoon I came in early to pick my daughter up for some lunch and as I watched through the window I saw that while the other kids were playing with eachother or toys, my daughter was standing half an inch from the small mirror, staring as if studying something. Her expression was blank and yet had a determined air about it. When I saw this, I knew that my prejudice against my ex-wife's observation was proving a disservice to our child.
A short time later we had her evaluated and she was indeed diagnosed as autistic. We were guided to seek a formal evaluation in New York so that we could enroll her into a therapeutic program for the following year. NYC is good this way in that it is required by law to provide services through the public school system to children with disabilities. And while over the years we were involved with some serious political wrangling from time to time, my daughter's progress would not have been as good as its been. Though as I continue you will see that so much of it is her own work.
(To be continued further....)