My son Neil is, a kind, funny, intelligent little boy, but he has some social and sensory issues, which is why he is being assessed for ASD.
When I say asd, I’m talking about all forms of the autistic spectrum disorder. Because he has not yet been diagnosed, and we are unsure of what the final official diagnosis will be (autism, aspergers, high functioning autism), I like to just use the overall term of asd. He’sdefinitely at the higher functioning end of the spectrum but he still has plenty of difficulties.
It’s hard to pin point exactly when we started having concerns, this is something all the health professionals ask when you meet them, what were your first concerns and I always struggle to find an answer. I know there were little things throughout his childhood that were different, I can remember little incidents, like one afternoon where he spun around on his hands and knees for what must have been an hour, and everyone was watching him, amazed at how long he was doing it, and he was in his own world for the whole time, just spinning. But I never thought at the time that these little things were related.
It was little things that Caitlin started doing before him that started to get us wondering. Despite being a year younger, she could write her name neatly and draw pictures that resembled things, where Neil was still scribbling. Some will say that’s just boys and girls, but it did start to ringing little alarm bells for us. We started to notice resistance to change, such as getting very upset and anxious about getting a new sofa. Like most other concerned parents, I turned to Dr Google, and for the first time I started to think about ASD.
My hubby and I first discussed seeing our GP at the beginning of 2013, around the time Neil turned 4. This was a scary time, and it actually took me months of deliberation before I finally plucked up the courage to make the first appointment. A big worry of mine was that his ‘issues’ were nothing more than personality traits, and that people would think I was a monster for thinking there was something wrong with him. I convinced myself that any issues he had we could cope with, and that we didn’t need to see anyone about it.
One Tuesday in the spring, I took the kids to a new toddler group for the first time. Neil found some toy cars he liked and sat on his own in the corner, quite happily just wheeling the cars around on the mat. Half way through the group the children were invited up to make mothers day cards and gifts at the crafting table, so I got a spot for Neil and Caitlin. Caitlin sat down and got stuck in straight away. I called Neil over a few times but he just continued to sit and wheel the cars around. I left Caitlin at the craft table and went to get Neil. He came up to the craft table but became very agitated and started trying to rip up the cards and crafting equipment, he was shaking and crying and pulling the things out of my hands. I let him go back to his cars, and he was instantly calm again.
Later in the toddler group the asked the children to start putting all the toys away, and they brought out a box of instruments for all of the children to take part in some music time. Again, Caitlin was straight in there, but Neil was reluctant to leave his car. Once the music started up, he had a total meltdown. He started pulling tambourines and drums from the other children and put them back in the box, and then he put his hands over his ears and rocked back and forth screaming that he needed to leave. It was the first time he had a major meltdown like this and it was quite scary. I swiftly grabbed their coats and left. Caitlin was distraught that she had to stop her music early, but what else could I do?
It was then I decided I was definitely going to seek advice from our doctor. I started to think
about the impending first year at school. At the time he had 2
noticeable tics, pronounced eye blinking and sniffing. These tics became
much more frequent during times of stress, and I worried that he would
be picked on in school. I also started to worry that people would think I
was a monster for not seeking help for my son. I was fighting a battle
with myself, but I decided for Neil’s sake I would get things checked
Because this is such a long post, and I have so much more to say, I have decided to break it up in to seperate posts.
If you wish to follow our ASD journey, please check back for part 2 where I will discuss our continuing journey towards a diagnosis.