My son is 27-months-old. When he was six-months-old, he started clenching his fists once in a while and making a really crazy straining face. He’s done it ever since, mostly with toys in his hands. (Specifically his favorite toys, so right now it’s limited mostly to toy cars and foam letters. But it can also happen with french fries, dinosaurs, balls, etc.) We’ve always called it Hulking Out.
On two occasions over the weekend, his “squeezing” visibly alarmed people who didn’t spend time with him regularly. My husband and I are used to it. My mom is too. (My dad is, but he hates it and reprimands my son for doing it.) When I found myself needing to explain his behavior and laughing it off as his “crazy side”, I had to be honest with myself. I’ve blogged a little about the squeezing before–with more than a little feigned nonchalance.
Is there something “wrong” with him? (It feels like a betrayal to even ask that out loud.) But his squeezing behaviors do strike me as compulsive. For instance, when he squeezes cars, he turns the car and squeezes each side of it before he puts it down. Front. Side. Back. Side. Arrange. Over and over with about twelve or fifteen cars. Or all the foam letters in the alphabet. When he colors, he arranges all his markers and pencils in a long rainbow after only using each one for a few seconds.
Nothing about his behavior really alarms me or seems to harm him. (What parent doesn’t read about autism rates in the news before keeping an eye out for every potential symptom on the planet.)
He seems advanced in some ways. He started speaking at 10-months, started identifying letters and numbers at about 13-months and knew the entire alphabet by 18 months. Now he knows all the consonant sounds and most of the permutations of vowel sounds. We don’t go out of our way to teach him–he asks us and then likes to teach us once he’s learned. “What sounds does a B make? Buh buh buh buh buh.” Over the past three months, he’s started speaking almost exclusively in complete, somewhat complicated sentences. His social behaviors seem completely in line with what I’ve seen from other kids his age. He definitely doesn’t act older than his age at all.
I’m going to chat with his pediatrician about it. She noticed the squeezing in an appointment a year or so ago and thought he was having a small seizure. (That’s how weird it looks.) Once she determined it wasn’t involuntary she wasn’t concerned. We didn’t mention how often he did it–and I figured he’d have grown out of it by now.
It doesn’t bother me. I love his crazy parts. I’m a weird person. My husband is weird. It only makes sense to me to have a son with goofy behavior quirks. I feel guilty for wondering if he’s okay and voicing my concern. But I also feel guilty for brushing it off for as long as I have without really wondering if it could be a sign of future problems or something I need to be doing something about.
Every night before I can go to sleep, I have to go into his room to whisper goodnight to him. I put my hands on his back and I touch his hair and I thank him for being the light of my world.