Tuesday, 2 April 2019

AutismAwareness - when I first thought my son might be different

Anthony was a May baby. The timing worked really well. It wasn’t too hot for the last few months of pregnancy and by the time Anthony was a few months old it was beautiful sunshine and walks in the park. Every now and again we went with the antenatal class mums and their kids.

Some of us struggled with breastfeeding, some of us were struggling with sleep. We talked lots about; dummies, nappies, bottles and shaped underwear. A year later in the same summary weather we met up in a playground and it was then that I thought there might be something different about my son.

All the mums were trying to grab a drink in the little cafĂ© next to the playground. But as you know that’s not all that easy with toddlers.  Some of the mums kids were all over them.  Every kid develops differently and in their own time. Just because my son wasn’t bugging and hugging me the same as many of the other kids could just be down to confidence.

One kid in particular was constantly coming up to his mum.

He kept searching under the buggy and mumbling. Eventually he found a small book and handed it to his mum and then I realised the mumbling was the words 'Tory Tory'.

No, not yet a political genius. However...

"He’s always asking for the story, he loves it so much," the mother sighed.  All the other mums agreed.  I just sat there completely astonished.

Anthony never even said the word 'mum' never mind asking for a story. Or asking for anything else for that matter. He didn't talk at all. He wasn’t interested in listening to a story - I’d be lucky if I could get them to sit on my lap to look at a book.

And as I listened to the conversation around me, I realised a lot of the kids were saying an awful lot more than my own. Not hard really when your kid doesn't say anything.

Looking back, that was the first time I thought 'crikey my kids not doing that'. It wouldn’t be the last.

To be honest it was a bit of a shock to see him 'behind'. Anthony had done so well with most of his physical milestones - he'd crawled and walked early. He seemed to understand what we should be doing and when.  I found myself feeling annoyed at the mothers who appeared to be complaining about having to read a story over and over again.

By the time of his two and a half year check with the health visitor,  Anthony also seemed to have developed a good memory especially for sequences and patterns. He'd repeat play over and over.

Linked into the fact that by then he still didn’t really say any words meant I was concerned. He could put pens back into a pencil case in perfect order but wasn’t interested in drawing with them and didn’t have any idea how to hold them either. Perhaps it shouldn’t of been surprisingly he never figured out how to hold a spoon till we literally hand over hand guided the spoon into his mouth.

The oddest things appeared intuitive whilst the things most people pick up naturally appeared a mystery to him.

Anthony was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) before his fourth birthday.

This is AutismAwarenessWeek and April is AutismAwarenessMonth. Most of the time I think about how raising awareness for our boys condition is about creating acceptance and enabling support for them.  I'd heard of autism, I was aware of it.  And when I started to see signs in my son, I was able to think.... 'could he be autistic'?

He was diagnosed as early as he could be.  Both boys were in fact. And they both started school with the initial support they required.  Anthony's brother, David even benefitted from a speech and language and communication needs nursery and one of the first EHCP's in the borough.

Their diagnoses were not a shock in the end. They were an understanding and a way we could support them.  Although sometimes I think about the things they may not do, it is rare.  I never mourned the child I didn't have.  I think if I'd had no awareness of autism I may well have done.  Autism awareness granted me the ability to see my kids, from an early age, for who they were and are.  So I'm quite grateful for autism awareness, before it benefitted them, it had already benefitted me.

Supporting the Makaton Charity #wetalkmakaton sign of the week - April

1 comment:

  1. Raising a child with a disability is a different path. Good luck and Parent on!


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