Autism Awareness:: Jonathan’s Story


I knew there was something different about Jonathan from the day he was born.

My husband told me not to worry, that no two kids are the same, don’t compare him to our daughter. He cried so much, and often I couldn’t figure out why.  Even my mother-in-law noticed and was concerned at our first visit.

Jonathan autism 3


Falling asleep was so hard for him, he cried and had to be roughly jiggled  for every single nap and bedtime. He started at everything and cried. I don’t think my floors got vacuumed for a good six months, and I cursed the fighter jets who flew over our house just as he’d fallen asleep. There were times when I thought I was just going to go crazy from this little baby that would cry inconsolably and never sleep.

Jonathan autism 2

At 20 months, Jonathan began therapy for language and gross motor delays. Six months later, we had an evaluation with a Speech Language Pathologist to work on his therapy goals. She noticed some behaviors I’d not paid much attention to. When he gets excited or overstimulated Jonathan runs in circles or back and forth in our living room. He would get “stuck” turning lights on and off. When we are outside his comfort zone of our living room, he is practically deaf to my voice. When he asked for something, he’d look at the object, rather than looking at me. All of these things could be explained away as normal behavior. But, when put together it painted a concerning picture.  I had no idea that he could be autistic. After all, we always “passed” the developmental checklists at his well-baby doctor visits. Our Special Educator suggested I take a look at an autism website to help me understand these warning signs.  I made a list of the behaviors that were of concern and took them to his pediatrician.  She referred us to the Children’s Development Clinic in Burlington where he was evaluated and diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

I’ve learned there is much more to Autism Spectrum Disorder than the quiet child sitting in the corner rocking or banging his or her head and ignoring everyone. My son makes eye contact quite often, and is very social. He just doesn’t naturally understand how to interact with other people. When he wants to play, he might pinch or hit his sister, so we teach him to say “Come play with me”.  The way I think of it is he was born “speaking a different social language”. This time we spend in therapy is not to “fix” him, it is to teach him the common language of our society.

The other part of Autism is about senses. Some of Jonathan’s senses are far duller than average and some are far more sensitive. I wish I had known about this when he was an infant.  We are still learning about this little guy every day; what helps and what hinders. When we are out of his comfort zone, he is so overstimulated that he doesn’t even hear my voice saying, “Stop!”. I think about what it’s like being at a loud rock concert. It’s hard to do anything but feel the music. This must be what unfamiliar surroundings are like for Jonathan.

Jonathan at age 2 1/2. Those intense eyes say it all.
Jonathan at age 2 1/2. Those intense eyes say it all.

My boy is full of surprises too. We haven’t talked about letter recognition at all, but he recently showed my husband some letters and correctly named them. He figured out how to turn on my kindle and buy a book when he was only a year old.

I feel so lucky that he was able to get Early Intervention. I don’t think I would have noticed the subtleties of his autism on my own, and he might not have been evaluated until he started school.  His third birthday in June will be bittersweet for me. He will graduate from the Early Intervention program and into the school district. I know he will be ready because of all the work we are doing and I look forward to see how high he will fly.


[typography font=”Delius Swash Caps” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]Written by Erin [/typography]

Erin guest blogger

My name is Erin and I love Vermont!  My husband, daughter and I moved here in 2009 and our family has grown to 5. I’m a stay at home mom to Madeline (9), Jonathan (2 1/2) and Peter (1). I like to shirk my mom-duties to make time for sewing, knitting and general tomfoolery.





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