Last Monday I was told that DJ had a mild form of Autism. For awhile now both myself and his daddy have noticed that something wasn't quite right. While other kids his age were saying different words every day, DJ had none, he seems to not hear us but his hearing was fine, he doesn't socialize well with other children and had no interest in them. In fact he seemed to digress in many areas such as speech and socializing.
At 16 months he said his first word "Shoes"(as a lover of fashion I was thrilled that this was his first real word) But after a few weeks he stopped saying it. He also used to shout "Dad" when he wanted his daddy, that too disappeared after a few weeks.
I used to ask all my mummy friends when their babies started talking and they always reassured me that he was just slow to speak and he would be talking soon.
I thought it was something I was doing wrong, perhaps I wasn't spending enough time reading to him or teaching him words, was it that he wasn't in creche? When I mentioned in passing to my Dr she refereed me to a speech therapist at a Pediatric section of a hospital.
After a 3 hrs assessment in St Johns Therapy center the pediatrician sat me down and started waffling on about Social Spectrum Disorder. I nodded my head and said "Right, Ok, Yes" She looked at my confused face and said "Do you know what Social Spectrum Disorder is" my reply "No idea" Then came the words "Your child has a form of Autism" The first image that crossed my mind was that of the Character in the Movie 'The Rain Man'. Thats all I knew of this disability. Was my son going to be Rain Man? The answer to that of course is No! That was a movie and no two children with Autism are the same.
I came home shocked and deeply upset and also in denial. DJ was loving and caring and he tries to talk to me,( sounds like chinese cross with swedish) but he is trying non the less. They must have made a mistake he cant have Autism.
After a few days of research and talking to professionals I realized that DJ did have many of the traits of Autism and it did explain a lot of things that DJ was doing. DJ only has very mild autism in the fact that he has no speech and no understanding of what is being said. He does live in his own little world most of the time and does have difficulty socializing, he has a lot of repetitive behaviors and is obsessed with his hands. He has also started jumping in his cot laughing hysterically at about 3 am, which is a little unnerving. (I thought he was having a very funny dream ).
However all that being said, he is smart and is very loving. He loves groups hugs with the family and has great bonds with his grandpa and with his Aunty Sophie, Uncle James and Uncle Shane. The thing to remember is, he is not ill. He is healthy, funny, fit and is super sporty, he just cant talk and may not be able to until he is 5 or 6. He might have some difficulties in some areas of socializing and learning.
I don't want people to tell me they are sorry, because there is nothing to be sorry for.
I've thought long and hard about writing this post, quite simply because I am scared. I am scared of what people will say, I am scared about how others will perceive my beautiful son and I am scared that he will be labelled. I only told my close friends and family about this because I was so scared about what people would think of him.
But I decided that if I write about this and I can at least help 1 other person or family by sharing, then it was worth while. We are starting speech therapy this week and I will keep a diary of the out come of this. I am going to devote my time to helping him learn and to talk and to communicate with others. I don't know what lies ahead and I am sure some days are going to be tough and difficult. I will continue to write about our journey together and DJ's progress, what is working for us and what is not.
All I can pray for right now is to have the patience to get me through the next few weeks and to help me understand this.
I have an amazing support group of friends and family who have been unbelievable, so for that I am very grateful.
Now I am off to wake up my little sleeping beauty and to go to the park.
Until next time