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.
Meet J. He is 2 years old and a very energetic boy. He loves vehicles especially any form of emergency vehicle. J may or may not be Autistic.
J was developing along the typical lines of development until he was 9 months old. Then he just stopped talking. He stopped using the few words he had learnt. He stopped babbling. He didn't point, didn't wave and didn't clap. He also started to have strange movements and spacing out. No one knew why and no one seemed concerned.
Apart from me and my husband.
At 18 months old I became more 'insistent' that I wanted someone to assess J. Not only had his speech and communication not returned but he was also becoming obsessed with certain things, reacting differently to different sensory experiences and his eating was becoming a nightmare.
J will have to shut and open a door or gate. He will lay for ages and push his small cars backwards and forwards in front of his face. He will completely freeze or meltdown at certain television adverts (especially things that are sped up or 'not quite right') He doesn't like sticky or wet textures and he could happily live on fruit bars and plain crisps.
Eventually we were seen by a speech and language therapist who agreed that he definitely needed assessing further. J uses Makaton and PECS to communicate. He is now 26 months old and see's his speech and language therapist (now says a couple of food based words and making sounds) and goes to preschool where he has an IEP in place. J has had a genetics test and we are now in the agonising waiting period to find out 'what next'.
Fragile X and Autism were the two key words to be discussed at our meeting. To be honest once I heard those words a lot of the parts after that are a blur. I always knew there was something different about J compared to my friends’ children, but to hear it from a professional brought out a level of numbness I wasn't expecting.
I guess half of me was hoping I would be told that I was just a neurotic first time Mum. The other half wanted to know that my suspicions were right. I wanted to be able to have a reason for his behaviours.
Something other than,
'you're a bad mummy...do better'.
I wanted to know it's not something I did that wrong and that it's just genetics or 'one of those things'.
I often get asked 'do you think he's autistic?' And I don't know how to answer. If I say 'yes I do' and there turns out to be no diagnosis then I look like I'm over reacting. The truth is, I don't know. I know there's definitely a 'something'. I do think J has a lot of traits of a child on the spectrum.
So for now, I am putting different techniques in place to help with the behaviours, bringing in more sensory play to help him with his food issues and encouraging J to interact with others (within his comfort zone). I guess it's all I can do whilst in limbo.
Whatever the outcome, J will always be my beautiful, amazing, clever little man, who I love with every single part of me.
To find out more about J's journey you can follow then on their blog here www.mummyest2014.wordpress.com.