He was different from the day he was born.
My son Giovanni was a totally different baby in every way to my two other children, and only in hindsight can I see all the clues I missed.
Shortly after he took his first breath, my son made a strange, elongated sound that wasn’t a cry, already having trouble expressing how he was feeling.
A quiet toddler, quick to smile but slow to speak, preferring to sit in his toddler seat and stare, happy to be ignored, rarely crying out for attention.
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It was like a little worm in my tummy, wriggling around from day one.
Something’s not right.
But look, my beautiful baby boy. Sure he’s different from my first child, and every other baby in this hospital. His eyes aren’t open and won’t open for three weeks.
And yet he seems content. Unflappable. Ever so slightly less aware than most babies I’ve known.
Soon enough he was a toddler.
We played peek-a-boo. We were stopped at a light and I turned around to check on him and he was holding his teddy bear over his face and when he took it off I laughed and clapped and said “peek-a-boo”, so he did it again, and again and again, but his smile didn’t quite reach his eyes and he never laughed.
He seemed more curious at my reaction and realising this, I turned around and stopped playing. It was all just a little off.
Giovanni did laugh and cry, but not much.
He talked and walked, but late.
He played, but by himself.
And still it took me seven years to have him officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
I will never forget that day.