Our first indication that Boo was unique or had Autistic tendencies was when she was between 15-20 months. We were sitting on the floor with her playing with wooden building blocks. The blocks were outlined in colors, ABCs on one side, numbers on the other side, complete with matching letter pictures. She was meticulously stacking a tower as tall as she was.
The blocks were aligned straight as could be with capital letters, colors, numbers, and pictures all following in their own suit. We would turn the blocks upside down, twist them out of alignment, or match a number to a letter side. She would turn around to get a new block, come back to notice our changes and fix it perfectly before she moved on to stacking the next block.
|Photo courtesy of Google Images|
My husband's strongest memory comes from yet another set of building blocks. She had a set of nesting blocks. Here is his recount of that memory in a recent email to our Autism Lead at our school:
Throughout the years Boo was was intrigued by any toy that enabled her to sort by color, shape, and size. It did not matter if that toy was "too young" for her. If she could stack it in ascending order, group it, or create an organized pattern it was a toy that kept her busy for hours. At that time we did not know she was paving the way for our journey to Asperger's Syndrome.
Years later while working with Boo's psychiatrist at Children's National Hospital we would learn that her fascination with patterns, detail to ascending order, and need for organization was a telltale trait of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
We still have the wooden building blocks in a closet. It is one toy I cannot bring myself to be rid of. They are more than just a toy. They are more than a memory. They are what shined a light into Boo's soul. They are the blocks that built a metaphorical stairway for us to climb towards answers; one perfectly aligned step after another in the most beautiful pattern you can imagine. The blocks are a symbol of how unbalanced the tallest tower can be; crashing down with the slightest touch. Even that is okay, we have learned from a very beautiful and gifted girl that with patience and attention to detail we can rebuild.