You Are a Unique Girl

Autism (Photo credit: GDS Infographics)

Perfect Baby

Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful, Perfect Baby…

Savannah’s ways taught me compassion. Oh, not to say that I was without concern or empathy, but spending much time with her made me aware of my sensitivity toward the circumstances of others. I didn’t know my feelings ran so deep. Savannah opened my eyes and my heart to autism, especially my heart.

There were no sirens or horns blaring to give me notice. It wasn’t anything that shouted, “Something is different” no it came upon me with all the subtleness of a cooing child. Truth is, our daughter never fussed and was the perfect baby. Perfect baby I learned was another sign of autism.

She was a quiet, happy baby but that was not what made her perfect, though it made me happy. See, I suffer from a severe traumatic brain injury and certain noises can be an aggravation to me. Savannah went about her quiet playing business, day after day, repeating the same actions again and again.

Getting ready to leave the house in the morning, Savannah, would fuss until her Mom took her out of her highchair and carried her to me at the door. She wrapped her arms around me and I hated to leave her. When I returned that afternoon, it was as if she had waited for me at that door to come home. She missed me. Savannah would then grab my hand and lead me down the long narrow hallway to her room at the other end of the house.

When I went to her toys and took something out she would not even feign interest. We played briefly but then she went to her bookcase and began bringing out the books (about ten altogether) every night; Savannah would not talk. She opened two of them and gave one to me, but would continue looking at the others even as I began reading aloud. I told Savannah to set hers down, sit still and listen. She nestled inside my comma shaped body lying on the floor as I continued to read. Soon, she was snuggling ever closer until I could no longer see the words or turn the pages. So began our norm and not a day or evening passed without a reading to my very special daughter.

After our read time had ended for the evening and as I got busy with other things ie; cooking or eating supper that Savannah’s mother made, Savannah would sit in the floor of the small living room and page-by-page go through the phone book. In a few days time (after the phone book had been processed) following our reading sessions, Savannah began looking at the Bible with the same careful thought and always in the same position with crossed legs. Did I mention that she was two years old then?

“Ehh, What’s Up Doc?”

“Follow the Light”

In her bedroom at age 2

I bought her a set of Tinker Toys and always she would do the same thing. She would lay them on their side and stack them up high. Then, just as the last piece should be placed, Savannah immediately knocked them over. She repeated, not doing anything different – building and knocking down. I became aware of how Savannah would give me the same books to read and how she would sit in the same place (which I loved). Every time I read the same book to her it was as if she’d never heard it before. I was incredulous at her desire to have the same thing read to her again and again. I tried to introduce new ones to our story time, but she would never let me, so it was always the same reads and Savannah snuggled into me each time, so I loved it. I wasn’t worried about anything at the time.That repetitiveness caught my attention and I spoke to my parents about it. Dad suggested I have her checked for autism and I told him that I already had an appointment for that the following Monday. Though Savannah was a perfect baby, that repetitiveness set off warning bells.Dr. A. Bellisario, had given Savannah the autism diagnosis after performing some simple tests in her office. The “doc” asked me and her many questions right there that concerned mostly her past and current traits. The doc then gave here an eye test where Savannah was to follow a tiny light at the end of a miniscule flashlight. She then gave me a phone number of people who deal with autism and told me to set up an appointment. “Does she have autism?” As my question was affirmed, I realized that I didn’t know a thing about this affliction. I made the call to the “Specialists” immediately the following morning.

Great Stuff on Amazon

Signs to tip you off…


All Kids in the Philippines Must Have It…

Following that diagnosis, her mother and I got into a heated argument, which was nothing new. See I felt that Savannah was unique but when I mentioned that to her mother, Maria, there was no support. She instead countered with, “I don’t know if she has autism because if she does, then every kid in the Philippines has it.” The Philippines were where Maria was from.

“That must include you,” I replied.

Savannah is on the spectrum and living with her I notice things that casual observers wouldn’t and her mom was included with the casual observers. Her mom never would admit that anything, she was a part of, could be tainted in any way. Maria was close to perfect, or so she thought.

All kids point; our daughter didn’t point. She never “pretend” played (playing house, tea, ironing, or dress-up etc.) Savannah was enamored with other children. But that love and joy was never returned. In addition, the anxiety she would go through with each new thing was unbelievable, to me. And I am speaking of the most basic things, nothing that one would guard against. Savannah could just be trying something new to eat (she was definitely showing more than a dislike of the food) or new boots (she would attract stares from others in the store) and I cannot forget the traumatic experience that preparing her for bed seemed to cause, especially the brushing of teeth.

But then through, Cathy, her teacher we got her involved with the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).

The book, “Thinking in Pictures,” by Temple Grandin proved to be an enlightening experience for me. We would show her pictures of what was about to happen like going to bed. The photos showed a person going to the potty, washing themselves, brushing their teeth and finally going to bed. After we began using PECS there were no more screaming or meltdowns at bedtime, wow a miracle; I thought. Really it was just showing her the sequence of things to take place and once she understood what was going to happen next, Savannah was fine.

Many, many times leaving an area would trigger a meltdown until I began saying, “In five minutes we have to go,” then after a couple of minutes, “One more minute and we have to go” and then after a minute, “Okay Savannah, let’s go.” That worked so nice and with such ease.

Text List

“Why does she repeat everything?”
“She looks so normal!”
“Ehh what’s up doc?A personal look into a child on the spectrum of autism.
  • When your child has autism you’d better get used to remarks such as, “She looks okay. I think my kid has autism.” Or this statement as if that person knows better than the doctors, “Ahh, she doesn’t have autism. Maybe Asperger’s, but not autism.” Autism is a spectrum of various stages and development just as Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD) is also on the spectrum.  Savannah and I help one another because the two disabilities deal with the brain and so I have knowledge of the struggles she is, and will face in the future.

Wow you understand!

Will you please watch this show?

Dinner before Father/Daughter's DanceAt age three Savannah and I moved to a new place; Maria and I were divorcing and I thought it better to take Savannah out of such a volatile situation. Things went smoothly for all of us and then Maria returned to the Philippines. When she came back she feigned happiness and love and I now know why she acted in such a way. It was to gain my trust of leaving her alone upstairs while I was down.  My computer was up there and I had all passwords saved in a file called, pw’s. She had taken Savannah up there asleep in her arms and was up there for about an hour when I decided to check on them. I assumed they had both fallen asleep, Savannah’s pillow-top mattress was so comfortable.I went upstairs too late and trusted too much. I nonchalantly walked up the stairs and glanced into my bedroom while standing on the second step from the top…there was Maria sitting at my computer, pen and small pocket-size notebook handy writing something down. My mind worked at a sloth’s pace so when she said, “I forgot to write the addresses of some of my creditors while living here.”That excuse sounded possible to me, so I said, “Take your time. Is Savannah still sleeping?” I walked into her bedroom and the little angel was sleeping soundly. In a matter of minutes Maria had come down stairs and immediately, without saying a word to me, began rifling through my kitchen cabinets beginning with the one where the medicine was kept. I waited patiently on the sofa but after a while I asked her, “What are you doing – get out of my cupboards!”

Well, I’ve digressed long enough but allow me to say this: My identity had been stolen! Files had been renamed, moved or completely deleted, Maria now had remote control of my computer via, the telephone.

Unbelievable, I received five years probation for having my identity stolen. Maria moved a thousand miles fro us fearing that she might get charged for filing false charges against me. She gave birth to two children and left them both – one (a boy in the Philippines and now, Savannah, in Minnesota while she lives in New York.)

At age four while in preschool her teacher, Ann, told me that at reading time when she is supposed to read stories to the class%u2026She had Savannah do it.

Ann told me, “Once I even told a joke about the story that I just read to the kids but nobody got it. Nobody except Savannah. It’s amazing that she comprehends so much at that young age.” Yes, I thought, she is amazing though I already knew that.

She is a unique kid and to this day, abhors television. I tried curbing the computer at age nine so she would be on only two hours a day but this is what I was told, “Dad, I wouldn’t use it so much but you know the kids around here don’t play outside; they’re always inside watching T.V. I’d be out playing if there were anybody to play with! They never are! They just sit and watch T.V. and eat all the time. At least with the computer my fingers and brain are getting exercised!” How could I argue with such logic?

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An Informative and Loving Read…

Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin has autism. She is awe inspiring, just check out her accomplishments.

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autism reads

Savannah today…

Happy, well adjusted…

I worry because Savannah is always alone. I worry that she has no friends, I worry that she is bullied, I worry and wonder if she is getting the proper nourishment, I worry about her being happy and I worry that she does not rest enough, then I worry that…I constantly worry about her well-being.

One thought on “You Are a Unique Girl

  1. You have raised a happy, healthy, well-adjusted daughter! Don’t worry about the simple things in life as it will all fall into place for her. Children are resilient and she’ll do well regardless of all the challenges in life. She absolutely stunning … I can see why you might worry that the opposite gender is looking at her! Continue to give her all the tools she needs from you … your love, your support, your hugs, your reinforcement of love even when those “teen-years” comments seem hurtful (they’re really only normal, so don’t take them personally)!

    Give her a huge hug from us! What is the hardest thing others need to learn about Autism on a 24/7 basis?

    Take care and stay safe.


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