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Every parent’s dream is to have a child. I felt emotional the moment my son was born. My tears fell the moment I saw him. Perhaps that was a natural feeling, which every new mom usually feels after giving birth. I was so happy and proud to be a mom!
I was fascinated the moment I saw my son’s first smile when he was two months old. He looked at me giggled and cooed as if he wanted to say something. I was amazed the first time I saw him crawl at 4 months. He was able to sit still at 6 months and walked when he was about 10 months old. These developmental milestones were all within the normal range for his age.
What’s truly amazing was when he put together a six-piece puzzle when he was just 2 years old. I showed it to him once and he was able to work it out right away. When he wanted to get something, which was not within his reach, he will pull a chair and climb to reach it. I was so proud of him!
“But this amazement did not last long when I noticed a sudden change in his behavior when he was 3 years old.”
He could not speak any word other than the words “Mama” and “ Dada.” Whenever he needed something; he always grabbed my hand and pointed to the thing that he wanted. He cried and screamed a lot whenever he felt frustrated. I believed this is his way of calling my attention whenever he needed something that he could not express through words. The worst came when he tried hitting his head on the floor. He did this several times. I had to hold him tight and hold his head every time to prevent him from hurting himself. I felt anxious and helpless.
“His behavioral outbursts was too much for me to carry and I could not help myself but to cry out of frustration.”
I knew already that there was something wrong with him and the behavior that he was displaying was not normal. A sudden thought came over me that he might have autism. I have a nephew who has severe autism and he was displaying the same behaviors. I told my husband about my concerns but he did not want to listen at that time.
“I saw a lot of changes in his behavior especially on the way he played his toys.”
He always lined things up instead of playing them. He loved to spin the wheel of his toy car and got excited to see things being blown by the wind. He liked to play with plastic water bottles more than his toys.
“When he entered primary school, I was always being called by his teacher.”
He didn’t pay attention during lessons and class discussions. He always screamed and hit his classmates every time he got angry or frustrated. He flapped his hands every time he got excited and ate sand during sand play. His teacher also told me that he frequently opened the tap in their class’ toilet to play by splashing water. These were all the concerns that his teacher brought up in the meeting and told me that his behaviors were uncontrollable.
I told his teacher that I was also having a hard time controlling his behavior at home and told her that he was probably displaying signs of autism. I told her that I did some research on the web about the early signs of autism and it resembled the behaviors that my son was displaying. I also told her that I started doing some behavioral interventions to my son at home. I gave her a copy of the information about autism and the behavioral interventions for her reference.
We discussed my son’s need of an additional support in class. She gave him a support assistant to guide and monitor his behaviors. I agreed for my son to have an additional support and felt relieved about it.
We also discussed the behavioral plan for my son and how we could help each other by implementing a behavioral chart at school and at home. Giving a reward sticker for good behaviors and taking away privileges or implementing a “time-out” for bad behaviors. We both agreed to have a monthly review meeting for my son’s behavioral plan.
“But the worst was yet to come.”
During our monthly review meeting, I felt anxious when his teacher explained to me that my son needed additional help from outside sources or agencies. He has both behavioral and learning difficulties, which they are finding hard to manage. The SEN Coordinator and his teacher advised me to apply for a Statement of Special Educational Needs for my son at our LEA (Local Education Authority). They discussed the process and told me that my son’s educational psychologist will help me in filling out the application form.
(Note: This is the process that we follow in the United Kingdom but Education and Health Care Plan replaced this now.)
“Finally, my son’s Provisionary Statement of Special Educational Needs has arrived!”
I was so happy that my son got a Provisionary Statement of Special Educational Needs. This entitled him to get all the outside help from other agencies that he needed for him to progress. So with the help of an Occupational Therapist, a Speech and Language Therapist, Educational Psychologist and his Pediatrician, he was finally diagnosed to have ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder).
“My heart broke, but in spite of this, there was a sigh of relief!”
My son’s school has helped me a lot to find ways to help him progress with his behavioral and learning difficulties. They have come up with a Learning Support Plan or Individualized Educational Plan to support him with regards to his Speech and Language, Communication and Social Interaction, Behavioral and Fine Motor Development.
Now, I am always looking forward to my son’s continued progress and I strongly believe that he would continue to achieve and gain personal independence in the future.
What is your personal story with autism?
Follow Adel at Living with an Autistic Child