This week we were told that my 5 year old son likely has high functioning Autism Syndrome Disorder /Aspergers and ADHD.
For the past 2 years we have been regularly called in first by his nursery and then by his new school to talk about his behaviour which seems to get worse as the class size gets bigger. During this time we have struggled to understand the behaviour being described, as we rarely see the same behaviour at home.
We escaped the terrible twos, didn’t get much sibling jealousy when our daughter was born 2 years ago and apart from being a little “in his own world” we never really had much of an issue with other kids when on playdates or at the local soft play centre. So why at the age of 3 and a half did he start causing issues for his teachers and classmates?
Now we know.
I have to admit that as I sat listening to the specialist explain what Aspergers I was filled with feelings of guilt, sadness and relief – and barely paid attention as she went on to explain that it was a neurological disorder and that what is currently a weakness can also become a strength.
Guilty about not having sought help earlier, for being a working mum who isn’t always around to support him and for wishing we didn’t all have this mountain to climb.
Sad for the loss of a life that I had dreamed for my son – a life where he would flourish at school, be surrounded by friends and grow up feeling happy & secure – and sad to think that he is more likely to be misunderstood, encounter bullying and face challenges at school and in later years.
Relieved to know that there was underlying reason to why he had been behaving the way he has, why sometimes I find parenting incredibly hard and somewhat overwhelming, and relieved to know that there is a way through it. We just need to find the right support to help him and encourage him, and help him make sense of the world around him.
I am only just starting to learn about Aspergers and ADHD and all that we need to consider for my son and our family, but I still have so many questions.
- What do we do now, and how do we help our son?
- How do you teach some of the finer points of life such as empathy, remorse and making sense of social cues to someone who struggles with this?
- What support is out there to help him and us?
- Do I have the patience and strength to be the parent that he needs me to be
- Will we be able to find a way to ensure he has the best chance of fulfilling his potential
- What do we tell the school, and how do we work with them to help him
- Do we ask the school to educate the other children in his class about why he acts differently?
- Do we need to change our life style and work commitments to ensure we are at home more, and if so what would be the best option for us all
- How do we raise awareness so people understand our son's behaviour and that sometimes he needs help rather than discipline, and don't just write him off as the naughty kid
I have started this blog to help me to document our journey as we start to answer these questions and undercover new ones, so we remember what we learn.
How did you feel and what questions did you have when you were first told that your child may have autism, and how has this changed over time?