It was when C. was 2 years, 10 months old that I finally called New Vistas, an early intervention service here in Santa Fe. He had been hitting all his milestones pretty late, and some not at all since he was younger but it wasn't until I noticed the way he played that I had to be more proactive in getting him evaluated.
Among other delays, he crawled late and I said that he just wasn't motivated to move. He would sit in one place, where I would place him on his quilt on the floor. He would not move out of curiosity or motivation to another part of the room, or even to a different toy.
By around the age of two I noticed that he would play for an unusually long time by himself and be perfectly content....for hours. At first I would say "woo hoo, I can get so much done...he is so independant!"
But as he neared his third birthday, something in me changed. I watched him play with a bit of unease. Sure it was great he played so long by himself.....but really, is that alright? I noticed that he had rigid ways of playing with his toys. But the real clincher....he was lacking the joy that most other kids would find in their toys. His play was more strategic and I wondered " is he even having fun?" He would not smile or laugh. When he played by himself it seemed more "necessary" than joyful.
That's when I called. That's when I knew in my heart that something was off.
I am a huge believer in early intervention. If you could see C. now, you would never know what I have just described. He always wants us to join him in play and seldom sits and plays alone. He wants us to be involved. Our therapist once told us when we just started with New Vistas, "It's not that he doesn't want to play with others....it's that he doesn't know how."
It's ok if he is introverted, shy or not very social....that's ok by me. But if a door in his mind is sealed shut because of some off wiring in his young brain, I certainly want to be the first person to hand him the key....just in case he needs it to open his door.