Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I know I'm about three weeks too late writing about the stabbing in Sudbury. A boy with Asbergers Syndrome stabbed and killed another boy.

But it's still keeping me up at night.

I am so heartbroken for all the parents involved. The boy who did the stabbing did not have a history of violence, but students said he had gotten very morbid lately. There was no myspace page detailing a plot to kill this particular student. There was no map somebody could have found to prevent this.

I don't know much about autism. My husband's 11 year old cousin is autistic and he is one of the gentlest children I have ever met. I sat on a couch and watched him offer my six month daughter toys and gently stroked her head. He is very high-functioning, I think in part because his family works incredibly hard to keep him stable. He has to have a special gluten free diet. He also has another world of other food allergies that they have to keep track of, dairy, eggs and some meats. It seems incredibly exhausting to keep up with it. But they just do it.

When Eric was a baby, he didn't look at faces and I was really scared that something was wrong. He really liked looking at electrical wires and windows, but I read that babies are supposed to look at faces. And he wasn't. I remembered my niece staring into my eyes from the time she was three days old and I was worried about him because he wasn't doing that.

I even found the following test, but it was really for older babies. Basically if your kid can do these three things by 14 months, chances are you've got nothing to worry about.
  • Protodeclarative pointing -- by fourteen months of age a normal infant will point at an object in order to get another person to look at that object
  • Gaze-monitoring -- by fourteen months an infant will often turn to look in the same direction an adult is looking
  • Pretend play -- by fourteen months children will begin to play using object substitution,e.g. pretending to make tea and drink it out of a toy cup.
But at three months, Eric became very "chatty" and interactive and all my worrying was for nothing. So, my heart finds other things to worry about. Like what happened at Lincoln Sudbury. I just want to keep them safe and live in the moment we're in.

How do you quiet that "What if?" voice in your head when you become a parent?


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