Doctors diagnosed my youngest sister Kaylie with autism. Since then, everything started to make sense.
The tapping of random objects, the love for the flaps in children’s books, the random screaming and hitting, the need to draw or write on all the furniture and walls, the limited and awkward words that she spoke, the color of her baby bottle infuriating her if it was not the color she was used to, and the diaper changing until age nine.
That’s right, I just said that Kaylie was not potty-trained until she was nine years old.
Kaylie Beth Behrens. Where does a name like that come from? It comes from a special and extraordinary young Chinese girl who has autism. On April 5, 2006, my family and I flew to the province of Guangzhou, China to meet our newest member.
When we received her first profile and pictures, we did not see any signs of a disability. The adoption agency told us she was a healthy and ‘normal’ child. The second we met her in Guangzhou, we expected her to have minimal things to say and constantly cry because she was only one-year-old. Little did we know that Kaylie is the opposite of normal.
Although Kaylie is handicapped in the sense of holding a conversation and comprehending complex topics, she is just like the rest of us, but some are too quick to judge.
My mother took Kaylie and my other sister Taylor to a restaurant one night, and Kaylie said she needed to go to the restroom. My mom thought Kaylie should go to the restroom by herself without assistance to learn to be independent, so she did. As 20 minutes passed by, my mother began to worry. She walked into the ladies’ room to check up on Kaylie and an irritated woman approached her.
“Hey, you need to teach your daughter some manners. She peeked under the stall and stared at me! What is wrong with you?” grumbled the restroom stranger.
My mom shrugged her comment off because she does not understand what Kaylie and our family have gone through. The fact that Kaylie uses a toilet instead of a diaper is outstanding progress.
Kaylie is now 13 years old and is improving day by day. She goes to the restroom by herself and washes her hands, which she did not like to do before. She can read and write, but she cannot report. By this, I mean that if she reads a book or story and ask her what it’s about, she can’t give me an answer without me telling her the answer.
“I don’t know,” says Kaylie every time.
She loves to sing, play with toys, and tap her little Hello Kitty figures until the paint is abraded from the vigorous motions of her nail tapping it over, and over, and over again. Kaylie is notorious for tapping her toys – ask anyone who has met her and really knows her.