Christine's motherhood story - Accepting my son's autism spectrum disorder diagnosis
It has taken me a year to accept my son’s autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. I certainly didn’t deny it, but I didn’t share my internal battle with people who I needed to share it with the most.
I want to take you back to 2015, back to when he just turned two. Back to the high pitched squealing, back to the endless times we called out his name and he still didn’t turn his head. Back to when he would cry after my husband and I would just give up in frustration and lash out at him for not being able to articulate or point out what he wanted. Back to when I would lay awake at night and knowing in my heart that my son needed help.
“He’s just 2 years old, he’ll talk by 3.”
“Boys are always a little behind.”
“He reminds me so much of his Dad at the same age, he’ll grow out of it.”
“He just needs time, he’ll get there.”
Well shit…… maybe they’re right. Maybe I am crazy and just expect too much. Maybe I should just wait it out, but maybe I should just do what I want to do as his mother and seek help.
We had our first Speech Therapy screening late 2015. His hearing was perfect, so we ruled out any hearing issues. Watching the speech therapist try and assess my son who we have never met, not even heard of, was as painful as long nails on a chalk board, his squealing also sounded like it too. I felt so helpless watching my son move from one activity to another just to avoid any contact from the therapist. I was strong, I encouraged him to keep participating and even gave him the 'look' so he could stop being silly. I was exhausted by the end of it, so was he.
I came back two weeks later to discuss their findings. There was an extra person in the room this time, a Psychologist, they sat around me and their body language changed. This is it, they are going to deliver bad news...shit! I do this move when I give constructive feedback to staff who I know will take it and go down like a lead balloon…At least I had tissues during those sessions.
And then the conversation started…
“He is showing signs of Autism.”
“He is quite young so it maybe developmental delay.”
“Let’s get him ready for Early Childhood Intervention Services.”
What. The. Actual. Fuck! I don’t remember much after that.
How am I going to tell my husband that a routine Speech Therapy turned into a discussion about Autism. How the fuck do I tell him that? What have I done?! I couldn’t breathe, I refused to cry, I wasn’t going to allow anyone to see me cry, especially when I need to be strong for my boy.
I didn’t know where to start. Do we start with Speech? What is Occupational Therapy (OT)? So we need to see a Paediatrician then see a Psychologist? What assessment do we do and when? How much is it going to cost? Do we put him in child care? Do we put him in special school?
What. The. Actual. Fuck?!
It’s now 2017 and my son has been receiving Early Intervention with Speech and OT, we put him in childcare 3 days a week and we continued our strategies in helping him to increase his speech and self-regulation to aide him in calming down and concentrating. He improved, but not at a rate that will help prepare him for school. I knew what we had to do and I had to face it.
I was 7 months pregnant with baby number 2, in the middle of a massive house extension that I was project managing….. and there we were, sitting in a facility with my husband waiting for the formal assessment results for ASD assessment. There’s the speech therapist, a psychologist…Both sitting in the exact same position as the other speech therapist and psychologist in 2015, only this time there was a box of tissues.
“…..meets the criteria of Autism Spectrum Disorder”
I’m not going to lie, I wanted to throw a chair at someone, I wanted to yell, I wanted to point my finger at them and tell them they are a load of shit. But I didn’t, because I knew deep down, he was on the spectrum. So I cried… I was there, in the middle of the room, crying. I didn’t care, I was tired of being strong, I just let it go. I cried for him, I cried for his future, I cried for his vulnerability, I cried for his difficult journey ahead, I cried for what he may miss in life and may not be able to truly understand or enjoy. But mostly I cried because we finally have an answer, we finally have an end point, we can now have closure.
Our immediate family were the only ones that we told, I never told my friends, I didn’t want to. It was exhausting for me to talk about it, it was painful, I couldn’t accept it. I was angry with everything, I was angry at life, I was angry at God for crying out loud and I don’t even go to church! It was unfair, WHY HIM? But why any child at all?
How did I miss this? I’m a fucking nurse educator for fucks sake, I know this, how did I not see it?
Did you really read what I just wrote? Take a closer look…… wake up…. How many times did you read “I”?…. and that’s where my problem was…. It was all about me, how it all made me feel, how I couldn’t snap myself out of it because I felt helpless.
I had to turn it all around and make it about him and really see him, watch him, be there for him, comfort him, talk to him, play with him. It is all about how we can help him, help him get through his journey and love him.
God, I love him, he is my boy and he is perfect, he is who he is because he is my child. I am so proud of him and all of his achievements. He is my hero, he is stronger than me yet the most gentle big brother and son. He is improving everyday and we have the best time with him.
It’s almost primary school time for him, this is his next hurdle, the next chapter in his life. He has the best parents he could ever have because we promised to do whatever it takes to give him the best possible start in life, we will prepare for school with him, we will continue to attend therapies with him, we will always be there for him and most of all, we will always love him because it is always about, Nicholas.
Melbourne Mamas, you are not alone, you will never be alone.
I have a very strong personality. I'm compassionate, fiercely loyal and vulnerable.
Hood: Pascoe Vale
Motherhood in 5 words: Unpredictable, re-defining, pure love and priceless.
Fav family friendly place: Melbourne Zoo and our local cafes.
Coffee order: Fat Latte
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