Four months after our daughter Maria was born, Jackson was diagnosed with Autism. Knowing that our chances of having another autistic kid were high, we watched Maria’s development closer than we had watched Jacksons.
Like J, Maria developed very typically and as an added bonus she talked, she liked to play with her cousin and she liked to play with me. Now she did have some autistic behaviors. She never played with any peers at her daycare, she never looked other adults in the eye except for mom and dad, and one of her favorite things to do was to line up her toys on the table and then knock them down.
I knew. I knew from all the research I had done with J that these were highly autistic characteristics, but maybe she learned them from J. She didn’t have many of his other tendencies: she never spun or never did other stimming behaviors, she wasn’t picky about her food and she talked. I brushed other things under the rug and continued to believe that Maria was a typical child who was just coping J’s behaviors.
When it came time to put her into school we decided to enroll her in SARRC’s community school. Jackson sat on the waitlist for 2 years and never got in because not enough typical peers had enrolled. SARRC’s school model relies on having a classroom population of half typical students and half of student with autism. So our thinking was let’s get Maria in as a typical student and that way we can open up a space for a child with autism.
We never expected what happened next.