Today we took Quinn to a sensory movie - a fantastic offering by AMC Theatres, where they show a movie once a month without previews, with the lights dim but not dark, and with the sound turned down to a reasonable volume.
Last time we went, we saw "Frozen," which kept every kid in the place mesmerized. Today's movie was "Muppets: Most Wanted," which was a little slow in parts and had the kids squirmy and a little bored - not great for a room full of kiddos on the spectrum.
Quinn stood up and down and up and down and kept wanting to move from chair to chair to chair. Directly in front on us was a pre-teen boy who flapped his hands constantly unless he was fiddling with a slinky he held up to eyes. Down in front was an older teen who laughed slowly and loudly at random moments. To the left was an older boy who would tantrum each time he dropped his sippy cup or his mom threatened to take away his crackers.
On one level, none of this worried me a bit. One of the great gifts of Quinn's autism is that I am totally comfortable around kids whose behavior would have made the pre-mom me very, very uncomfortable.
But on another, the whole experience was more than a little terrifying. Quinn is very high-functioning and is growing and advancing day by day. But will it last? Will he hit a peak? Will his habit of flailing his body around when he's bored turn into the kind of full-on stimming that was so evident today? Will he grow up to be someone who happens to have autism or someone who is defined by it?
Some days I am full of optimism about this little boy who I love so very deeply. And some days I am gripped by an unrelenting chorus of "what if..." playing in my head.
Most days, it's a little of both.