The Beauty of a Brass Doorknob
By Holly Sleppy
My son Evan was fascinated with round objects.
We first noticed this around age 2, as he stood in one well lit room and peered into the next dark room rocking from his front foot to his back foot.
He was watching the reflection of the light move on a brass doorknob.
I only know this because I had to get down on my knees and rock back and forth to see exactly what was so fascinating in the next room. A slim, curved slice of light rimmed the brass doorknob and moved up and down as I rocked back and forth. Cool, I thought.
He was also fascinated with the wheels of his Thomas the Tank Engine trains.
He lined up his trains on a window ledge and got as close as he could, but always cocked his head to the side to study them from an angle. He didn’t play with these trains—making choo-choo sounds as they chugged up imaginary hills. He studied them on the window ledge, moving them back and forth, eyes always locked on the wheels.
My husband and I saw this as brilliance, of course. Our 2-year-old son was detail-oriented and focused. He noticed the beauty of ordinary things, and forced us to stop, study and notice them too.
What we didn’t see, or know until a few years later, was that these were the first subtle signs of autism.
It wasn’t until Evan was 3 ½ that it was ever mentioned that there was something different, even troubling, about him. He was exhibiting “angry behaviors” at daycare, and the teachers were concerned about him and his interactions with the other students. They gently asked if we would have him evaluated by our pediatrician “just to be sure” he was okay.
This was beginning of one of the most challenging times in our lives—the years that led up to his autism diagnosis at age 5.
Updated April 5, 2017