Sunday, 18 January 2015

Autism in the Family

I'd like to take you on a little journey back in time, twenty seven years to be precise because that's when my first born son arrived in this world. There is nothing so precious as your first born child, even if they do cry all the time and have no clue that night time is for sleeping.

 I took him into a local shop when he was around six months old and the shopkeeper started asking me lots of questions about him. It was then I realised that he was not like other babies. She actually said that six month old babies were cute and smiled a lot, that they liked to play with you and started to sleep better. Nope, not my son, he still liked to cry all day and all night, unless I was walking him around in his pram.

When he was seventeen months old his sister was born and boy was I in for a surprise. This baby slept, I didn't have to hold her all the time I could lie her down in her moses basket and leave her to gurgle. When she was full from her feed she'd drift off to sleep with no problem and not wake up for hours. Perhaps something was wrong with her?

As they grew it became obvious that they had two very different personalities. It was because one was a boy and one a girl, wasn't it? My son was so naughty, all the time, and he never listened.

We had problems at school. he would sit under the table, refuse to go back into school after break time, not listen to the teacher or parrot what she was saying, refuse to write, refuse to read, refuse to eat his lunch, refuse to use the toilet. He was a very naughty boy!

His teacher gave me the number of a child psychologist. How dare she assume something was wrong with my son just because he was naughty. I just had to try harder, make sure he was disciplined more, I know I was soft on him, but his dad was really tough.  I hated it when he played up and his dad was around.

His dad left us when he was nine. It was ok, we could manage.

The school asked me to take him to the GP as they thought he might have ADHD. Pah, they thought every kid had ADHD. My son could sit in front of his N64 for hours on end, he had perfect attention when it was needed.

I took him to the GP who asked lots of questions while my son climbed on the back of my chair like he was climbing Everest and pulled my hair like it was a rope. The GP decided that I wasn't coping very well with my husband leaving and prescribed for me anti-depressants. All the way home my son chanted "you are the crazy one, not me!"

He started secondary school, it didn't go well. His best friend no longer wanted to be his best friend and he didn't want to speak to anyone else, even the teachers. They put him in the Special Needs class which made him worse.

When he was twelve we went to see the psychologist. She asked a millions questions while my son sat eating his trainer.

He was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome.

Things got worse at school, not better. Inclusion was heard of then, but their ideas where ridiculous. My son was clever, but because he now had a diagnosis he was put in a class where he was learning the same stuff that six year olds would learn. He objected. I objected. I took him out of school.

He went to a school for kids that didn't fit into any other school. He was supposed to have been there for six months while they integrated him into a regular school. He was there for three and a half years. Then he went to a fantastic special collage which really didn't stretch him academically but gave him the opportunity to try so many new things like glass blowing, basket weaving, engraving and astronomy. It was somewhere for him to be while I tried to figure out what we were going to do next.

He decided himself and went and did an accountancy degree. I'm not sure that he will ever work in accountancy but at least he proved something to himself if no-one else.

And that is the story of my first born son.
I could go into more detail, but as he is an adult now I will respect his privacy. The main reason I wanted to share his story is because of where I am now with Lucy. She is about to go back to school full time. Next year she will going to secondary school. I have the difficult decision to make of what school she will go to. I know that things have probably changed since my son started secondary school fifteen years ago, but have they changed enough? It's something on my mind a lot at the moment and I'm sure I'll be writing a lot more about it while I figure it all out.

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