When my family and I decided to take Devin in from the foster care system 3 states away, we really had no idea of what we would be dealing with. Devin was going to turn 4 in a couple of weeks, and we thought we were looking at adding a young boy to our family who would get help with his developmental delays and continue with his life much as our teenage daughter had. This is not to say that our decision would have been any different if we had known that he had autism, but we might have been better prepared to welcome him into our home!
Since we were traveling so far and my husband had family not far from where Devin was staying, we decided to spend a day with relatives before returning to our home so that Devin could get used to us before we started the 13-hour trip back to our home. We had not seen Devin since he was about 8 months old, and he had spent most of the time since then in foster care. It was very clear that I was the one that Devin would run to if he needed anything or was upset – he would not go near anyone else. And he began calling me “Mom” almost as soon as we left the foster home!
A Rough Trip
Our trip back to our home was a very interesting one! Devin wanted no part of sitting in the car seat after the first hour — and started screaming, “Mom!” and bawling, wanting to sit on my lap in the front seat. At one point, he removed his shoes and socks and one of the shoe came flying up into the front seat. We tried snacks, songs, games — everything that we could think of but nothing soothed him. He finally cried himself to sleep! After each nap, things would be calm for an hour or so and then the tantrums would start again. That 13-hour drive felt like 3 days!
What is Going On?
Once at our home, things settled down a little bit but I started to notice little things here and there. Not only did Devin have a speech issue, but he would not establish eye contact with anyone. He also did not like to be hugged or cuddled. And when he was with other children, he never played with them – instead, he played beside them so that at a glance it looked like he was interacting but if you watched for a little bit, it was obvious that he was in his own little world. He would spend hours lining things up in his room, and if anything happened to mess up the line he would immediately go into a tantrum or bang his head against the wall. At times he would sit on the floor rocking himself like there was nobody in the house but him.
I started doing research on the internet, and it was not long before I suspected that Devin definitely had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and ASD. I was not sure where to turn next, but I knew that I would definitely be doing whatever I needed to do to help our new household member!
If you have any comments, questions or ideas to share on this topic, please feel free to leave a comment below! Or maybe you have another area related to autism that you would like me to talk about! Just let me know!