Seeing Jack

Alternatively titled: “Oh My God, How Cute Was Jack as a Toddler?!?!”

I’ve spent so much time thinking about Jack and when he might have first exhibited signs of his autism. I find it so difficult to remember when he did what and whether it was a sign of his autism. Part of that is because time has muddied the water and it’s hard for me to see all the way back.

Part of it is also that I had three children in the space of three and a half years (Jack being the middle), so there was a good chance that I was doing a little sleepwalking during the first few of Jack’s years.

I remember specific things. I remember that he always would play happily by himself, amusing himself with his toys, instead of needing my attention all the time. I remember that he didn’t try to show things to us; he didn’t seem to need to share experiences. I remember that he didn’t point, and when he finally started to, it was with his thumb.

I also remember some beautiful eye contact, super cuddles, and giggly tickling.

Today I was going through some old photos. When I was looking at photos from Jack’s early toddlerhood, I kept trying to remember if we had suspected the Jack in the picture of being autistic. I know all the dates of when we had him evaluated and when we got him diagnosed, but I look at early photos and wonder if that Jack’s mom had started to wonder about how quiet he was.

Now, when I look at the photos, I see things in very young Jack that I see in five-year-old Jack. I see things that very young Jack’s mom didn’t see.

I see an intense and prolonged interest in certain toys, books, and pictures that extended past what other kids his age had.


I see awkward finger postures that have gotten more obvious to me as he’s aged.


I see him staring into space in a manner that I now recognize as his being deep in his own thoughts, or overwhelmed, or both.


I see him seeking tactile stimulation in a way that many parents would consider inappropriate.


I see bits of his autism peeking out of the corners of these photos. But I also wonder how important seeing those bits is. I think that maybe it is more important to see my beautiful, loving, autistic, adorable little guy.


Because is there anything more important than that?

Cross posted at Trusera.

22 thoughts on “Seeing Jack

  1. I thought I was the only one who looked through past pictures looking for those red flags and wondering how I could have missed something, and how much time was wasted because of that.

  2. Wow! That is good. And Jack was (and is) adorable!

    Have you ever watched the videos on Autism Speaks? I find it amazing that there are signs from so early, although one of my kids had many early signs of autism, yet doesn’t have it. He’s just a very quirky guy. It’s probably good that I didn’t know anything back then.

  3. He is utterly adorable.

    Have you read Look Me In The Eye, by John Elders Robinson? He is Augusten Burrow’s brother (Running With Scissors), and has Asperger’s. The book was really good, very well written, and encouraging. He talks about recognition versus not having his condition recognized, etc, when he was a child, and how it both helped and hurt him. Anyway, I’ve been meaning to ask you forever now, so there it is.

  4. OMG, I do this too. Especially when I write the monthly update. Especially when I was scared of autism even before I got pregnant.

    Jack is wonderful. I know I’ve only spent a couple of hours with him, but i so could not see autism in him.

  5. I see it a little in my son’s photos; where I REALLY see it is in video footage.

    Love the cute flashbacks! Amazing, isn’t it, how fast the time goes by?

  6. Mystery wrapped in an enigma, he is. Great pictures. Until recently, Brad also had the perfect child syndrome – not demanding, played independently, mostly under-responsive to environment, never a meltdown.

  7. Since my little Aspie was my first I know that there were a ton of things I missed with him simply because I didn’t know any better. It sort of kills me a little bit when I think about it. I look back and wonder how I didn’t notice that he didn’t have give and take conversations with us or that why I didn’t think it was a problem that he would line things up over and over and over. All day long now I see my three year old do and say things my boy never did as a toddler and I wonder how in the heck I didn’t know. Honestly I try not to focus on it too much or it makes me sad. (Joseph had -and still has- the same same way of holding his fingers as Jack does.)

    You’re right, Jack was an adorable little guy! He’s still pretty cute now too!

  8. I see Jack, and damn he was (and is) cute! Already having a child with a diability, when Mooser was born I decided I wasn’t going to be all obsessed like I was with his brother the 1st year. So all of his milestones were late? So he cried to be put down and would stare happily into my armpit when nursing (well it took him 3 months to figure out how to nurse, so he needed to concentrate, NOT look at me). When he wasn’t walking at 15 months I took him to my other son’s neurologist because he told me to (we had just started early intervention for developmental delay). I remember him saying “See how odd it is that he would rather play with your pencil and a piece of paper instead of all these cool toys?” I was like, um do you know how many times I am stuck somewhere with only the objects in my purse to entertain this little guy? Besides I have a serious obsession with office supplies. Me and Mooser (who is 5 now) at office depot? Yeah, you better watch out. We could buy ALL of the post it notes in the blink of an eye! Anyhow so he diagnosed him with autism (pdd-nos) and then we got a second opinion because everyone said it couldn’t be because he “makes eye contact.” I just wanted to be able to tell the powers that be (schools etc.) to stuff it, that more than one doctor would have to be “wrong.” ANyhow, you know me. I fight the good fight for people to just see my kids for who they are and accommodate them as necessary to help them live successful, independent lives. I don’t regret missing any red flags with my 2nd son at all, what I regret is the way I obsessed over them with my first son (glued to listserves rather than kissing on him, etc.). Thank goodness I got off of that train fast!

  9. Old mom here – young moms, don’t beat yourselves up about what you didn’t see. There is a lifetime for diagnoses and therapists, but such a short time for babies. Baby and toddler Jack, and his brothers, got what they needed most – love and care and inclusion in a family.

  10. Interesting. You make such good points, but all I can see is a curious little boy.

    He is that, you know. Has been during the years I’ve known him, at least, and he’s so much fun to be around … he’s always into something.

  11. I’ve wondered the same thing about Cordy. I’ve looked back through pictures, wondering how I could have missed it when the clues were all there.

    But no matter what clues you look for, there’s no denying he is (and was) adorable!

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