People with Down syndrome have a reputation for being "huggy" and very affectionate. People with autism are sometimes described as having repetitive or obsessive behavior. Over the last few years there have been people who have come into our lives who wonder if, besides having Down syndrome, Kellen could also be on the autism spectrum?
I've thought about this question often and have even asked for some opinions from others who know Kellen...and know autism. I have gotten various opinions, but have finally come to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter to me. I'm not interested in giving him another label...unless it will help him, or help people understand him. What I have noticed is that when he is anxious or under stress, he acts much more like a person who has autism then he does a person with Down syndrome. When he is not anxious or stressed, I don't see "autism" at all. Since I know that autism doesn't "come and go"...I don't really think he has autism at all, but rather autistic-like behaviors.
We had a big graduation/welcome back from Paris party for DQ this weekend. Sweet Husband's ninety-year-old aunt joined us. She has a special connection with Kellen and it is fun to see them interact. She has a wild-streak herself and I think she enjoys a maverick when she sees one. The party was a lot of stimulation for Kellen, but he did okay as long as we kept an eye on him and gave him a break in his room as needed.
At one point during the party she and Kellen were sitting together at the picnic table. Kellen had his arm around her and was watching her eat. He gave her a nice peck on her head and she thanked him. Then, he started kissing her head over and over again. It became obsessive and he wouldn't stop despite my attempts to redirect him. He loves to take pictures and I offered to let him use my camera...but no...he was locked in to this repetitive kissing. The funny thing was...she seemed to be enjoying it.
Later, I was relaying this incident to an acquaintance of mine who hasn't met Kellen. She has several grandchildren on the autism spectrum and so has lots of experience in that arena. She often asks about Kellen and so she has heard me tell stories which describe his personality. When I told her about the Obsessive Kissing Episode, she responded, "Your son is really a mixed bag...isn't he?"
It got me thinking...yes...that is the perfect way to describe him. He is a mixed bag. The Obsessive Kissing Episode was a great example of the intersection where Down syndrome and autism meet.