When I first started to suspect that my son had autism (when he was around 2 years old) I began to notice every little thing he did. I noticed how he lined up his cars, spun round in circles and how he rocked his head repetitively. I worried about him a lot and put everything he did down to Autism. As the months and years went by I stopped worrying so much and realised that whether or not he has autism, he was still our little boy with his own little personality and that what ever happened, we would always love him unconditionally. The fear started to reduce day by day and in it’s place I found acceptance. Autism was always there in the back of my mind but it no longer consumed every waking moment of every day. Life went on, I started sleeping again and I tried to be the best parent I could be while I waited and waited to hear about his assessment.
Finally we got the phone call we had waited so long for and on Monday my husband and I went along to the hospital for our appointment regarding our sons ADOS assessment. We were with the clinical psychologist for an hour and 45 minutes while we answered her questions and told her everything about Harry that she needed to know. To say it was hard going would be an understatement because we weren’t there to tell her all the great things about (our now) nearly five year old son. We weren’t there to tell her how funny and kind and gorgeous he is. That would have been irrelevant to our appointment and would have just wasted time that wasn’t needed to be spent. Instead we had to sit there and tell her everything that was wrong with him. Or rather everything that society deems wrong with him. We spent 105 minutes answering questions which led us to telling her how he doesnt really play with other children, how he can’t write his own name, how he refuses to get dressed, how he will only wear certain clothes, how he flaps his hands when he gets excited, how he gets anxious when he hears unfamiliar loud noises and spends time with unfamiliar people, how he doesn’t seem to understand emotions or show empathy, how he gets hyperactive and just won’t stop when he’s told to calm down, how he doesn’t have any idea about things that aren’t socially acceptable (like wearing his sisters pink onesie and hair bows or running around naked and ripping his pull up off in the middle of a restaurant because he doesn’t want to wear it any more). We had to sit there and tell her how bad his echolalia is, how he taps his nose with his comforter when he’s feeling anxious, how his speech is behind his peers and how disordered it is, and how he repeats the same sentences over and over and over again. I left the appointment feeling emotionally drained.
On Wednesday it was Harry’s turn to be seen and it went exactly as I expected. I was supposed to leave him alone with the two clinical psychologists so that they could assess him without me there, but Harry became so upset that I couldnt leave him. I had to go in with him but stay silent. Harry wouldn’t say hello to them or take his coat off and he didn’t speak to them the whole 30 minutes we were there, except to repeat back absolutely everything they said to him. He wouldn’t engage in any play with them, he didn’t do anything they asked of him and he didn’t react to any of their facial expressions or games. They blew bubbles at him and then paused and I knew they were waiting for him to ask for more bubbles but he didn’t say anything. He just stared, shuffled about and licked his lips anxiously the whole time. They asked me if he always licks his lips likr that and I had to tell them that he only does it when he’s anxious. He wouldn’t answer any of their questions, even the ones I knew he could answer. It was difficult to watch. After 30 minutes one of the doctors asked the other if they needed to do any more (the appointment was suposed to last 45 minutes) but she replied that it wasn’t necessary and that she had seen all she needed. I left the appointment feeling emotionally drained.
I am now almost certain that Harry will be diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
Of course the school need to add their input too and have completed the questionaire they were given by the hospital. What the school have put in that questionaire will determine whether Harry needs to have an observation in school or not. If what have they written marries up with what my husband and I said on Monday, and what they themselves saw on Wednesday, then he won’t need another observation and we could have the answer we’ve been waiting three years for, next Tuesday.
The only problem is, everyone in Harry’s care needs to be free to attend the meeting and seeing as it’s only a week away and quite short notice, I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible. If we don’t get to meet next Tuesday then we won’t get to meet until January because the school breaks up from christmas on Friday and someone from his school needs to be there. I’m keeping everything crossed that all the relevant bodies can make next Tuesday because I really don’t want this hanging over my head all over christmas and New year.
Since I got that phonecall a little over a week ago, I’ve been noticing all of Harry’s little quirks again. I mentioned to my husband how weird it is that his traits have suddenly become so noticeable. My husband says they’ve gotten more noticeable as he’s gotten older, so I guess they were always there, I just stopped seeing them like I used to. His hand flapping, lip licking and echolalia had just become normal to me but now that autism is back in the fore front of my mind, once again it is all I can see. Unlike three years ago though, I’m no longer scared. I know in my heart that my son does have autism and what’s important now is that we get that clarification so that we can move on with our lives and support him the very best that we can.
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