JosephYou know that autism is a weird disorder when you’re relieved that your kid is sick.

We work so hard to help Joseph (he’s 5) bridge those autism deficits: social skills, emotion sharing, referencing (via eye contact) and more. And we’ve come a long way.

One of the odd things about this particular parenting journey is that you obsessively pay attention to every change in your kid, even every nuance of change. And one thing we’ve noticed lately is more interest in other kids. Joseph’s been eager to hang out with kids at playgrounds and at preschool — he’ll imitate them and begin to join in on their games.

This has been very exciting. His preschool teacher promoted him socially from an early 3 year old to a mature 3 year old. I can’t tell you how good it feels to see him run toward kids instead of away from them — to see him smile with delight when another kid shows up when he used to just scream with fear.

So. Today, at the playground, Joseph wanted nothing to do with the other kids. He wanted to be there, but he played separately, away from the others. It finally culminated with him screaming up on one of the playsets when the kids were around him. I had to intervene and take him away.

Anyone touched by autism knows the fears that come up: Has he regressed? For good? What the *$#!&% happened? Did I feed him gluten or something? The mind jumps ahead to one’s child at 21, or 31, or 71, never having made a friend, always alone and isolated.

But then we got home and I noticed, hmmmm, his forehead is a little warm. I take his temperature, and, sure enough, he’s got a fever of 101. Phew. What a relief. It’s not regression — he’s just sick.

See? Autism does crazy things to a parent’s head.