The month of April is best known for the explosion of Easter Bunnies, obscene amounts of chocolate as gifts for children and a magnificent feast to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. To many people April is Easter, they plan, they organise, many months in advance sometimes, Children have the time of their lives, gorging on chocolate, receiving gifts from extended family members, but to me, April is Autism Awareness month.
So to celebrate this, I am going to dedicate my blog for a whole month to families who wish to share their Autism Journey with you.
Some of these people have autism themselves, some are autistic parents to autistic children. We have teachers with autistic students and even Bloggers who want share their journey with me, which I am very grateful for.
It was then that we decided as parents we needed to take the first step in seeing someone.
We tried and failed the first time: Having got an appointment through to see a paediatrician and then had it cancelled because we didn't meet enough of their tick boxes. After that life carried on for a little while and between the school Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) going on maternity leave and the summer holidays it got pushed to one side for a time.
September came and I went to see the Senco. I made sure I was well prepared for it though and there was no way they were going to cancel another appointment this time! I'd spent hours on the net researching the symptoms of Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyspraxia, Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) etc so everything and anything that fit him could be documented.
I made sure that it was all categorised too, such as sensory issues, coordination problems, limited safety awareness, and together with the SENCO we filled out all the necessary paperwork. Next was the trip to the GP and I went armed with everything I had and a letter I'd written to the Dr too. The Dr told me I had written a very good letter and that it was clear to see straight away there was something not quite right there and he agreed to forward it to the paediatrician. The very next morning we got a letter through the post for an appointment with a paediatrician.
I couldn't believe how fast it was!
This then worried me; was there a reason it had been rushed through?
The appointment was made for October, and so appointment day arrives and it's a day that I'm dreading but I am also hopeful about. Maybe I'm not just an awful mum after all and there is something there to explain a lot of B's behaviours. We walk into the office and more or less the first thing the paediatrician said to us was:
"I can more or less tell you now that I think your son is autistic".
Those words hit like a bomb. I'd been expecting them but hearing it out loud made it real and scary, very scary. He wanted to go through everything in the appointment first and said he wasn't sure if he could say for certain if we'd get an official diagnosis that day but at the end of the appointment he made it.
B is autistic.
I feel sad that he goes through this and most likely feels alone a lot of the time as if we try to talk to him about how he's feeling we can't get anything out of him and he struggles a lot with emotions as well as anger. I feel pain that I can't make it all better for him. I feel pride that he recently sat some mock SATS papers and was the only one in his class to get full marks, he tries his hardest even through his struggles. Most of all though I feel love. Love for my son no matter whether he has a diagnosis of autism or not. He is who he is and I love him for that.