Monday, July 19, 2010
I thought I would share with you our journey with autism.
We were living in Mackay about 1000km from our family when my two year old first born was diagnosed with autism. I didn't feel anything, I felt numb. I settled into a frenzy of needing to know everything you can possibly know about autism. It was ridiculous. I lived, ate, breathed it. All this time breastfeeding my new born daughter.
We quickly packed up and moved back to Brisbane. We needed family support and better facilities. It quickly became apparent our modest income was not going to support our son Clay's needs for early intervention.
So we sold our house and then lived with my parents for three years to help us manage with his therapies and also help our family deal with our grief but also our joy with all the gains and miracles our precious boy achieved.
I have written and published several articles around the place and would like to share this one that was recently published in an ezine.
Clay started accessing Autism Qld’s services from the age of 2 and a half. Attending a play group that gave me time with other Mother’s and introduced us to the different specialists employed there. One month we would meet the occupational therapist, another the physio therapist or the speech therapist. After 18 months, Clay was accepted into the Sunnybank Campus’ Early Intervention program. A two day a week fun filled, action packed day with regular contact with all the above therapists. He evolved. He was a boy with no turn taking skills, little speech and no toilet training. Amongst other things, at the end of that year, Clay was initiating games and happily awaiting his turn, he began to string words together forming simple sentences and was fully toilet trained.
The staff are patient, kind and loving and always take the time to listen to your concerns or celebrate milestones. What some people consider ho hum achievements to us are miracles. Clay was five and at Prep when he uttered his first seven word sentence “Hey Dad have you seen my scooter?” I will never forget that day. We were living with my parents at the time and we were in the back yard. All four adults paused and then cheered; laughing and crying. We were so excited we went out for dinner that night to celebrate.
And so it goes; Clay has gone from one small miracle to the next. A constant source of wonder and joy to us all. He is now 8 and in grade 3 at a mainstream school. We continue to deal with issues. They are different ones now and in five years will be different again. It is a relief to know that at all times during Clay’s life he will be able to access services provided by a dedicated team at Autism Qld. Be it holiday programs or sibling support for his sister. Possibly a visit from the outreach team who will attend any school in Queensland no matter how remote, if their services are required.
We are conscious that none of Clay’s successes would be possible were it not for the likes of Autism Qld. We are grateful he had an opportunity that so many kids miss out on simply because the funding is so stretched and the need so high. Clay has a very unique skill. Drive him somewhere once and he will never forget how to get there. He can draw road maps of anywhere he has been and then makes up road maps as well. He recently directed us to a house we lived in over 4 years ago. If I kept all his maps – it would fill our garage.
I hope you have enjoyed learning a little of what we have achieved. We don't want sympathy we want celebrations. We don't want pity we want tolerance. Remember if you have met one autistic child then you have met one autistic child. It is called a spectrum because each child/person is different; just like we all are different and unique. Also if you see a child in a supermarket having a huge tantrum just consider this; they may be autistic and having a meltdown because the smells/sounds/sights etc are upsetting them.
Take care, enjoy your Monday.