Autism – How I Knew

I have mentioned briefly in my past blogs, that my middle child Louie has Autism. He was diagnosed aged 3 after I took him to my GP and said I wanted the referral. From there he had an assessment conducted by an educational psychologist and speech therapist as well as other professionals. They attempted various tests through play. This went on for roughly an hour and then they left the room to make his diagnosis. They confirmed what I already knew, that he was autistic. I asked whether he was classed as high functioning. Apparently they don’t actually use that label anymore but yes, if they did, then he would be. Louie is now 4 years old and will begin full time school in September.

Many people ask me how I knew. I graduated in 2007 with a BA (Hons) degree in Primary Education and began my first teaching post after being offered a job at my last student placement. I taught mainly KS2 (7 to 11 years) and loved my job! I taught children with a range of Special Education Needs and in my 4th year was asked to teach a small focused group of 8 Year 6 boys, all with statements of SEN. Therefore I was quite aware of the social and developmental characteristics of autism around that age.

Louie was a happy, healthy baby weighing 7.5lbs, 3 weeks early. He was born just a year after my first child Alice so 2 children in 13 months was always going to be a challenge! Their sibling bond was amazing right from the start and they are so close even now. Louie met all of his developmental milestones and was full of character. However there were a few points which my mum noted in that first year. One night she was helping me put them to bed and I told her how Louie liked to be left laying in his cot after his bottle and not rocked or cuddled till he fell asleep like Alice. Shopping trips to the supermarket were horrific, I know most parents will say this, but with Louie it seemed he was genuinely terrified. I have come to the conclusion that it was the lighting in supermarkets causing this. Trips to the beach and park also seemed to cause him distress and as he came into his twos I would notice he hated different textures. He would cry and scream if his bare feet touched sand or grass. This was the point I started having suspicions.

I kept my thoughts to myself and observed as he grew. At this point his language definitely started to slow down in terms of progression. We made our big move to the countryside and his behaviour and social development deteriorated further. He would become so frustrated and have violent outbursts. It was when we took him to a Christmas Fayre in a busy cathedral that I knew my feelings were right. Louie was now 3 and the crowds, noise and colours sparked off the biggest meltdown I had ever witnessed. He ran away from me, through the crowds and when he couldn’t see an exit he hid under a table with his hands over his eyes, rocking back and forth. I crawled underneath with him despite the stares and tuts I received and my baby boy let me hold him and soothe him. Once he was calm I held him and took him away from the fayre and told my husband it was time to take some action.

“Oh he’ll grow out of it” “It’s just the terrible threes, mine skipped the twos and had the tantrums at 3″”We went to bed without any dinner if we behaved like that as kids” “He’ll be alright it’s just where you’ve moved and all the change” “I think they just label all kids these days”

These were some of the initial comments I received from friends and family. Some days they hurt, some days they enraged me, some days I laughed to myself and let them pass me by. I knew I had done the best thing for Louie, having him diagnosed and fighting for it so early. Also our move to the countryside meant the NHS waiting list was not as long and the resources available to him have been unbelievable in comparison to what I fought tirelessly for with my pupils in London.

However this was just the beginning of a long, ongoing road that my immediate family are set to travel. Louie’s autism does not just affect him, but his siblings and our whole family. Join me as I share with you our struggles and joys through our journey together. I hope I help to educate people and help alleviate some of the ignorance around autism. I look forward to hearing other people’s journeys!

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12 Comments

  1. I’ve worked at a local youth club with kids who are diagnosed on the spectrum and it is their uniqueness and individuality that stands out to me. They are homogenized with the broad church of those not on this spectrum though really it’s just a different wiring that needs patience to understand it. Seeing someone stim can be so disconcerting but rolling with it as I know you know can be rewarding.
    I made a really great blogging friend at autism mom. Elizabeth is based in Reno in Nevada but she and her husband and the Navigator came to the UK when we met. The Navigator is a dinosaur nut so I took them to Crystal palace park where he loved picking holes in the Victorian sculptures. To prepare him for such a trip which took her a year she absorbed doctor who to work alongside star trek which she uses as a guide to behaviours. She now has a book out using that tool. To explore strange new worlds by Elizabeth Barnes. Only if you are interested. I’m sure you get bombarded https://www.amazon.com/Explore-Strange-New-Worlds-Understanding/dp/1334999104/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=VDW2GMTNRJC5MQ5HNPT7&linkCode=sl1&tag=autmom05-20&linkId=af4470cb426edfd11943220819dfdbcd sorry to fill up your comment box. This was such a heart warming read. One day it will be accepted we are all on a spectrum called humanity and be done with it. If we can adapt to people who’s eyesight is dodgy with glass we can adapt to people who absorption rates for information is different and all the other little quirks.

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  2. I am so glad that you had the since to get him a diagnosis so early. That is the best thing. I do think it is great that you are living in a smaller area now. I lived in England for quite a while and know how the NHS works. I know it is harder to get what you need in a bigger place like London.

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    1. Definitely I can’t believe the difference here in the country! I’d probably still be on the waiting list if in London! Also his new class has just 8 children so a definite contract to 4 form entry year groups with 32 per class in east London! X

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    1. Morning 😁 thanks so much for your comments I will definitely have a look at your blogs. 💖 it really is crazy how different it is here from London we definitely made the right moves in terms of schooling and health! How old are yours? X

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  3. Hi,
    My 2 year old little boy Samuel has just been diagnosed with ASD, he is not yet 2.5 years old. I like you had my suspicions, when the diagnosis was confirmed I shouldn’t have been shocked but it’s hit me like a brick wall. Samuel has 3 older sisters. I want to help my little boy but feel completely out of my depth. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.
    Justine x

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  4. Hi, me again. Oh how I totally understand your fight for your little boy. I’m telling you, I actually think you are me haha. Before I left the town I was living in, both my boys, were labelled as “just naughty children” and “the typical children of a single mother”. I knew different of course, I just knew their differences weren’t just being naughty, but no one listened to me, all the “experts” just blamed their behaviour on the fact that I had split from their “father” (I use that term lightly). It was only after my move to Norfolk that I was actually listened to and after seeing many specialists, were they both diagnosed with ADHD. Yes, both of them and yes I was raising them alone. Extremely hard, extremely rewarding and totally challenging, without the help and support from my parents (whom also lived in Norfolk) and their new schools, I’m not sure I would’ve come through the other side. Let me tell you and hopefully give you some hope, they are both now the most beautiful, responsible, loving and hardworking sons any mother would be proud of so there is light at the end of the tunnel. Best wishes to you xx

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    1. Thanks so much for this. I can only imagine how hard it was to raise your sons on your own. I’m glad that education wise our attitudes have moved on but I still think Society has some catching up. Some of the comments I recieve about autism are so ignorant it’s shocking! I think that’s my biggest worry.. The future… Will he get married? Will he have his own house? Work? But each day I get more confident in myself and him and he surprises me. He is happy and loving and that is all I want for him really. Thanks so much for your comment xxx

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      1. To answer your musings, both my boys have excellent jobs, their own homes and families, so don’t worry too much about your boys future. Like you say, it only really matters that he’s happy and kind. Xx

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