Carissa was born August 27, 1999. She was a healthy, 20 inches, weighing 7 1/2 lbs, a perfect baby girl, with blue eyes. Her first year she was the healthiest of my three in so many ways. One of her siblings was a hard act to follow first born who developed faster than average, and so the within normal range slower development looked just like that and little more. No one was concerned, except I was a bit aware, and when I showed concern was just reminded of the sister she was following. She was well most of her first year, but the hecticness of life and business with two toddlers, I thought brought the stress and competition that slowed down her bonding in nursing. I was determined to wean her at 9 months, but she was not bonding as well as I thought she should, so I continued much longer after all until a bond was clearly established. After a year, while starting more solids and milk, she began struggling with ear infections and viruses until she was over 3 years old.

During this time she was behind other children enough for it to begin to be noticed, but she was tall for her age and many thought that was all it was- that we were forgetting how little she was. She struggled with eye contact, and needed more re-direction than others in her pre-school, and did some wandering and darting. She had some fits when she didn't want to transition to come home and sometimes didn't transition easily in the pre-school room. She had such a knack for direction that when I took her for walks in the stroller, even when I tried to trick her by coming home from a varying location she would start to climb out of the stroller and I would have to carry her home and sometimes, if her sister wasn't there to push the stroller home, I would have to return for it. In the car if I took a varied way home from pre-school, she would also get upset. She always wanted adventure, especially outside.

She was hesitantly diagnosed PDD by a top physician in our community at 3 and 7 months. She was placed in a PDD 4 year old program with the Public Schools, with a higher functioning class. In Kindergarten she was fully mainstreamed and only pulled out for three half hour intervals a week to help with language. In first grade she was transferred due to a family move to a purchased home, and was in a top school in the city. She had a Para-professional who sat between her and a boy who was diagnosed ASD. The Para gave him more help because she was so able, but I knew it was hard work for her to get through the day in this program. Her handwriting and gross and fine motor were behind normal, but still within normal low in all but small motor in many ways from what testing showed. Her speech was never delayed, and she was withing normal low vocabulary development and had a solid IQ. She struggled socially, but was invited to Birthday parties and had some that were doing alright with her help her, but it showed socially she was behind, but always in most ways within normal range in what really mattered for academic success.

By 2nd grade, we had moved again with her Dad's job to another top school system. Her teacher recommended pulling her from Sp. Ed. through re-testing. Since we still wanted to believe she would grow out of this and all, I agreed. But she continued to struggle in ways, and by 3rd grade, moved once again over Thanksgiving break, her hard teacher, seeing her as only ADD, was not empathetic and disciplined her for her first classroom meltdowns (rare). Fortunately, we were moved from there and I homeschooled her the remainder of that school year. Then in 4th grade, she started school in that system, and struggled more socially in the latter two schools than ever before. She had made a good friend who had an Aspie brother in 2nd grade she'd had to move from, and had some neighborhood friends, one which was the most faithful, in the 4th grade, but now in 6th grade has been homeschooled since mid-5th. Here she doesn't have a close friend, but her older brother who is also high functioning somewhere on the spectrum, is her best friend, and some of the kids have done pretty well with her.

Still, she longs for relationship, and their eldest sister remains neuro-typical and adored by all the children her age who want to hang on her (16 now), rather than handle Carissa's uniqueness. Carissa isn't so different from other girls her age though. She loves style, and cooed musical tones I matched when she was an infant, and she has sung well all her life. She has composed some, finding chords on her own, on a student guitar we own. She still loves nature. I never could keep shoes on her. She loves creating stories with her brother or alone, and they got into manga with the one who was her best friend in 4th grade, and others, so she draws manga characters often, and writes stories and poems. She also enjoys creative expression in original dancing, acting out her stories and participating in drama class, and did take ballet as a 5 year old. She is a Christian girl and is learning about her faith and cares about that.

She longs to find friendship. Though moving and finances among other reasons slowed me down in seeking nailing down her diagnosis, the more I learn and know others with children on the spectrum, and the more they see this as well, we are certain that the opinion would be that she is high function ASD somewhere on the spectrum. During the last couple years, there was a time of stuttering that she and her brother went through, which I believe may have been contributed to by stress, and a friend who they were always playing with who had speech impediment with stuttering. Now she is grunting while she sits still. I'm hoping this will just pass also and the stuttering will be completely gone, but these are typical symptoms I've read about that can come out during this time of life.