The first year typically slips by with the usual flurry of bottle making, nappy changing and colic induced sleepless nights but you are content in the knowledge that this is a perfectly normal process that every parent goes through and certainly nothing to be unduly concerned about. For many it is after they help their toddler to blow out the first birthday candle that an uneasy feeling starts to manifest itself in the pit of their stomach. A silent unexpressed thought, could my child have autism? Or what is it that that is not quite right?
At about 15 months I began to instinctively feel that something was amiss. My beautiful blonde haired, brown eyed boy was not responding in the same way that my daughter had.
Family members usually mean well and can be highly supportive but are also often the first source to lead you astray. When you finally pluck up the courage to mention the Autism word you are immediately assailed with a multitude of alternative answers, boys talk later than girls being one I have heard a hundred times. They are more laid back than girls they naturally do not pay attention to you when you call them. You may then proceed to talk to your doctor about but they who may also say reassuring things like it is too early to tell if your child could be on the Autistic Spectrum of Disorders at this stage or is not the child walking or crawling fine so you just have to be patient.
For many when the day of reckoning about the dreaded Autism word finally arrives when someone impartial takes you away and points out what has been blatantly obvious to you for a long time, you do not have to worry about it. of Autism presenting themselves and sometimes your child needs a Psychological Assessment. This revelation of course is a mixed blessing. Yes it is a relief to finally talk to someone who openly discusses your unexpressed belief and fear that your child has Autism but unfortunately this also means there really could be a real problem and it is not just a figment of your imagination anymore.
However you do not yet have a diagnosis of Autism, Asperger's Syndrome or any other disorder on the Autistic Spectrum of Disorders, so your very first step has to be to get a full and comprehensive assessment of your child. Before this will be done you need to rule out the possibility of a physical cause of your child's difficulty such as Glue Ear which can cause severe speech delay problems and ensuing behavioral issues. Therefore you will need a thorough ear examination.
The Psychological Assessment is a very detailed set of tests that will require extensive knowledge about the parents, siblings and other family members behaviors which could explain a lot of your child's behaviors, any notes or information you bring with you will be very useful.
Whatever the outcome of this assessment now is definitely the time to trust your own instincts and move forward by educating yourself fully on how to really understand Autism and other personality disorders all said to be part of the Autistic Spectrum of Disorders. If your child does have Autism then Early Intervention in the forms of Speech therapy, Occupational therapy and Psychological assistance can make a huge difference to how much your child can progress during their early years.
Initially you will grieve for the child you thought you had but you will then come through this and embrace and love the one that you have been presented with. A diagnosis of Autism can be devastating so it is very important to get the help, support and advice you need for yourself and your partner as well. An Autistic child can put a huge strain on any relationship and this can further impact negatively on the child if not addressed and deal with. The entire family needs support and advice. Adopt the methods that best help you as individuals to cope with the news. Only then will you all be able to do everything in your power to give your child the best quality of life possible.
The first day I went to the local Mother and Toddlers and spoke openly about my son's learning difficulties was as good as any therapy session. With time you can learn to embrace your child's uniqueness and accept that although he may have a different perspective on the world or he may not be the little boy you ordered he still has a whole lot to offer.