As most mothers with children on the spectrum you don’t suspect anything wrong or off until 12 months or later. I was happy with what I thought was a healthy baby after everything that went wrong during the pregnancy. Bilal’s only health issues the first year of life were the following:
- umbilical hernia: after his umbilical stub fell off his belly button looked odd sticking out as if still another part of the stub should fall off, the pediatrician later told us it was an umbilical hernia and we should just leave it alone and the intestinal wall will close off on its own. The pediatrician I saw in Egypt told me that I should use an umbilical bandage to push it in and help speed up the closing on the intestinal wall, and that what we did, by 6 months the hernia was gone, and he now has an “outie”
- reflux: within the first week we noticed that burping Bilal was a problem, he seemed very uncomfortable after a meal, lots of straining and grunting, the burp came out after a long time and lots of spit up and projectile vomiting. It was quickly diagnosed as reflux, and we were told to give him small frequent meals and feed him upright and keep him upright for as long as possible (30+ minutes) after a meal. He couldn’t fall asleep on his back and he spit up so much that at 6 weeks old I decided to have him sleep on his tummy, I was well aware of the risks of SIDS but I had him sleeping on a blanket on the carpeted fall, and he slept so much better that way. We went through so many bibs, burp clothes and clothing with the frequent vomiting. We were told they grow out of it between 6 – 12 months but with Bilal it lasted 18 months, it was worse when he started solids and feeding him in public caused a lot of anxiety cause I was afraid he’d vomit which has happened twice on a plane, several times at the doctor’s office, twice in restaurants, and countless times at home and at my parents. It no longer felt like reflux, he could vomit when he felt like it, food too hot, too cold, odd texture, crying too much, fear, bad or unexpected taste. It was the worst part of his childhood so far.
- Occasional colds and ear infections: the same rate as any typically developing child
- Teething: with each new tooth Bilal developed a slight fever and diarrhea, and of course the irritability
- vaccine side effects: he would get a fever and the site of the injection would be warm to the touch but I was told this was typical.
- He could support his head by 6 weeks.
- First smile – 5 weeks
- Slept 7 hours at night the night he turned 3 months
- Sat unsupported at 5 months
- crawled the day he turned 7 months
- walked towards the end of 9 months
- first word at 12 months – ota which is a cat in Arabic
- He could climb out of his crib at 18 months, climb back in at 20 months