N is for Nearlytypical
N is also for neurotypical, normal, and non-autistic.
I’m the mother of two children. They are both verbal, affectionate, sensitive, intelligent, funny, devious, and have occasional problems interacting with others. My daughter is diagnosed with an ASD (and ADHD), and my son isn’t.
When he was a baby, and Pudding had recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s, I enrolled Cubby in a sibling study. From the first session (at 10 months old) they found some small concerns about his development, but he never met the criteria for autism. He was found, at various times, to have difficulties with joint attention, anxiety, fine and gross motor delays, sensory issues, and low muscle tone.
In the last few weeks, we’ve seen some additional behavioral problems thrown into the mix. He is becoming more aggressive, both at school and at home. He isn’t responding well to discipline, and is explosively emotional. In many ways, he is more challenging than his sister was at this age, and 3 was a tough year for her too.
Interestingly, some of the techniques we used on Pudding, work well on Cubby, and others he rebels against entirely. He loves a social story, and enjoys routine, as well as being “talked through” what is going to happen. We’ve had no success whatsoever in trying to modify his behaviour through positive reinforcement.
Whenever I see a study comparing a group of autistic individuals against a control group of neurotypicals, I question if it is as simple as that. Of course, autism is a spectrum, a diagnostic grouping of symptoms that describe a vast range of individuals. I only have to collect Pudding from her preschool to witness how vast that range can be, and how severe some of those challenges can present.
But the similarities between these siblings seem to be more evident than their differences. Cubby is a far more effective at communicating than his sister, both verbally and non-verbally, but she is more socially-motivated than he is. While he isn’t autistic, it isn’t as simple as describing him as non-autistic, or neurotypical, or even (God forbid) normal.
I’m going to stick with nearlytypical for now.
All this was going over my mind as I couldn’t get to sleep last night. The sheets were too scratchy, it was too hot for the heavy quilt, but there wasn’t enough weight with just a sheet and light blanket. It was too loud outside, and too light inside. Maybe one day there’ll be a sensory spectrum. Until then I might call myself nearlytypical too….though Spectrummy Mummy fits me just fine.
This post is a continuation of my A-Z series. You can read the rest by clicking >here<.