Hi, my name is Alex and was born in 2012. I was diagnosed with “moderate” Autism in February 2016.
Everything was fine and on track, some developmental milestones were even a bit ahead of schedule. It was after my 1st birthday that there were some changes: behaviour, social interaction, eating and language.
Part of the misconception about Autism is that it is caused by vaccination, especially the M(mumps)M(measles)R(rubella/ German measles) vaccine. If that were the case, why are there children that have never been vaccinated that have Autism?
What lead to the eventual diagnoses were:
- my speech development slowed down
- no response to when my name was called
- preferred to play alone, shied away from social interaction
- Lining up of toys, mostly cars, and like to look at the wheels spin
- Loud noises did not scare me so much as crowds of people
- Rarely make eye contact when interacting with people
We took him for the mandatory 1-year hearing test, which was fine. I spoke to the audiologist about my concerns and she suggested we make an appointment with the Speech pathologist. She did her assessment and agreed that there is a delay in his speech development and more sessions should be made. There too I spoke about my concern that there is more to this and she suggested that we see how the sessions went before looking at other causes for his delay in speech development.
Well, getting off from work and the medical aid benefits being exhausted, that was unfortunately not an option. The family suggested that maybe if he started Day Care it would help with the speech and he would make some friends. (At this point he was still at home during the day with his grandparents.)
So, at the age of 2, we send him to a small Day Care down the road. Starting Day Care took some getting use too, but after a month or so he seemed to like going to “school”. The group was small and the teachers patient. His eating was fantastic and we were looking forward to adding new foods. He really enjoyed his lunch box every day, even sometimes the cooked meal they got at the Day Care.
But by the middle of the year, his behaviour started to change, he became more withdrawn, he did not want to eat the foods he always ate and he started acting out against the other kids.
And of course, the few words he picked up at the daycare did not go further. But the teachers were kind and helpful.
Towards the end of that year, many things changed at home, that I am not really surprised that things changed for him too. Grandma and Grandpa moved and because both I and my husband work in Cape Town we thought it better to get a creche close-by. The teachers at his old creche were very concerned that the teachers at the new creche would not understand Alex.
And then we moved. One thing autistic people are really bad at is changes; changes to their surroundings, to their routine – to anything. Not good.
It was at the new creche that things came to a point and our journey begins.
Areas that we are working on:
- Language – It is coming along nicely. Some sentences. You can actually have a conversation now. (March 2018)
- Eating – He has a very limited diet he has set for himself. Foods that he uses to eat he no longer wants to eat and even the ones that were part of his “favourite” food is being refused. No veggies or meat, very little dairy.
- Behaviour – Social interactions like sharing, playing nicely with others, manners (put any child struggle in this area). Some hand movements have developed and some sensory issues.
- Sensory Issues – Alex is Sensory Seeking. No, this does not mean he seeks attention, it means that he is craving more input to his senses than normal. Even though he might be a sensory seeker, he also has some Tactile Defensiveness , Vestibular Defensiveness and Oral Defensiveness.
For a short glimpse into a lesson see the blog post of 28 August, click here
Autism can be beautiful.
- They pay attention to detail and want things to be done perfectly.
- Autistic people rarely tell lies. They are therefore reliable and honest. They are open and reliable regarding their intentions as well.
- They live in the moment. They put everything into what they are busy with at the time.
- They do not worry about what will happen next or what the consequences may be.
- They are passionate and will put a lot of energy into what they are doing, especially if they find it motivating. Autistic people are not ruled by social expectations and are less materialistic. They are able to live their lives to the full, without being too worried about what other people may think or say.
- They rarely judge others.
- They often have terrific memories.
… But is can be not so great too
- lack of understanding of emotions
- stuck on repetitive schedules
- cannot understand abstract concepts
- often speaks off topic and continuously
- often socially awkward or rejected by others
- often bullied by others
- often shy and reserved when asked to speak with others
- may have difficulty with motor skills and coordination
- Prone to depression and anxiety
- meltdowns, burn-out and self-harm