Me and my husband have always loved Ethan’s little quirks. He would hum in singsong ever since he was an official toddler. He would do his own yoga moves and do the downward dog just for the heck of it. Right after he turned one, he began to take an intense interest in wheels. Anything that turns, he looks at it like it’s the most fascinating thing in the world. Small wheels on his toy cars, big wheels on popcorn carts and real cars. Wheels on his own and other people’s strollers. The spinning of the washing machine. We noticed that he focuses on parts of an object and not its entirety, and he also has keen awareness of little details. If there was a little speck of white on a brown floor, he noticed it. If there was dried paint on the carpet, he touched it again and again. He figured out early on what the apple remote was for. He learned how to swipe on my phone at age one. He has also been going with us on road trips since he was three months old. Until now, at two years old, Ethan is a road warrior. We drove back from Fort Ross, in Northern California, when he was short of two years old, and he was able to withstand 10 hours with breaks in the car. We took him to restaurants when he was a baby (until he was five months old when he became more aware of his environment). Now his favorite tune is “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and he’s adding more tunes to his mental musical library. He’s humming Wheels on the Bus and Farmer in the Dell too!
Suspecting that my son had ASD
Some of the things that we loved about him also made us realize that he might be in the autism spectrum. A simple google search for “why is my son/daughter obsessed with wheels?” links the behavior to autism. We weren’t completely sure but we knew, based on articles of what was expected of him at his age, that he was developmentally delayed. When we brought him to baby gym classes at 17 months, his widely different developmental pace became more apparent to us. We also noticed his fleeting eye contact and that he didn’t yet respond to his name. I talked to his pediatrician and were referred to Harbor Regional Center, where he was scheduled for an assessment a month later, in June 2018. He was first diagnosed with global developmental delays.
A Developmental Boost Because of Early Intervention
This intense interest in these sensory details would develop over time. He eventually learned how to play with a toy car in the way it is meant to be played with; by rolling it on the ground. He’s even making “vroom vroom” sounds. And just two weeks ago, five months after he started at Leaps and Bounds at the Pediatric Therapy Network, the early intervention program he goes to, his therapist commented that his engagement level shot through the roof and all the other therapists noticed it. He began showing affection to us, raising his hands to signal wanting to be carried or be playfully tossed on the bed. He began responding to other kids, laughing while they were laughing and running with them. He began running to me when he was in therapy or out playing in public places, which to some parents might be going backward, but is progress for my son. He would cling to me when I would drop him off at his program in the morning. His occupational therapist commented that this was actually a good thing. He was a completely different kid! We are seeing a happier, more expressive, more playful Ethan. His eye contact improved tremendously. Does early intervention work? Yes! It was definitely paying off.