Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Long Drive

All children are different, from birth they already have a personality all to their own, amazing really when you thing about it. You love your babies the best you can and in a blink of an eye they are grown. It is a long drive, but the view is amazing.

Caleb being first, and we didn't really have that much experience with kids we adapted our parenting style to suit his personality without even realising. From 18 months he would line all his cars up and spin their wheels, he would stack books methodically rather than enjoy reading them and he carried around an animal encyclopedia from the age of 2. Oh wow my boy is super clean, organised and smart - nothing wrong with that. The funny thing is I can even remember thinking - he never even makes a mess, his hands are always clean - how handy.
My happy little boy started to change at around 2, and doing all the recommended strategies for tantrums did nothing. Without even realising it we had stopped going out to avoid the meltdown on returning. Poppy came along at 2.5 years. We thought we had prepared him for what was coming, I will never forget that face of betrayal as he came into the hospital room, banging his head on the door screaming "no, no, no" until after 15 minutes Glen had to take him home. It was the longest 5 days of my life being away from him.
He turned 3 the week before Christmas and I had some time off to spend as a family. He struggled with his small party and a trip to the museum resulted in 3 tantrums before we even got to the door. I finally rang my friend who studied early childhood and asked if this was "normal". Thankfully she was honest enough to tell me to keep searching for answers. Paediatricians told me there was nothing wrong with him. A doctor I had to get a referral from told me she would teach monkeys Cantonese before my child had any disabilities. As a parent that is what you want to hear - your child is fine, it was what Glen especailly wanted to hear. I rang a child psychologist out of the phone book out of desperation and made an appointment. The next week was a good one, you always got a good one every 8 weeks or so, and I cancelled it. I had to ring her back once we were in trouble again a short week later.
Finally we had answers, a name - asperger's autism on the mild end of the spectrum. I was never so relieved to know my child was not "normal", but that his behaviour was normal for him. Conventional thinking wasn't going to help him, he needed to hone his skills in different ways. There was lots of slowly increasing tolerance to outings (including one very funny one with Caleb screaming that he hated Jellyfish) and helping him understand routine and increasing his amazing vocabulary to include stuff like feelings and time and hearing "no" infront of a noun - that just isn't natural to him. I discovered that I couldn't tell him something and keep my hands still - he wasn't understanding my words at all but following my example and I didn't even realise. I thought he could do jigsaws and in actual fact he just remembered where every piece went. My beautiful little boy had been holding all that in.

It is a long and steep and curvy drive.

He still struggles with anything but perfection. He hates to try if he thinks he will fail. He tries so hard to be the person he thinks he should. Last week he won the award at kinder for the best manners and has lots of friends. I spoke to his oc. therapist today and after visiting him at kinder the last few times she feels she is drawing unnecessary attention to him as he is going as well as every other child there (even if there are only beige foods in his lunchbox). His fine motor skills are even going well and if he wants to should be right for school next year.

It is a long drive, and even now we pass roadworks every now and again. I think it is good though as it is a reminder as to the miles we have done and that our GPS is on target where ever we are heading.

(The picture is of our wedding, Caleb was 7 months and Glen's best man.)
Actual proof of craft tomorrow I promise.

21 comments:

trashalou said...

I like your analogy - parenting is a long drive and sometimes we get taken on detours from the expected destination. There are roadworks and near misses, stalling and traffic lights but you are so right, the most important thing is to take time to look at the scenery and enjoy the drive.

Megan: The Byron Life said...

Wow! I like this analogy too and I love how you write about this Cindy. I can see how some of those behaviours would be construed as very normal toddler antics - my Melli could give Caleb a run for his money on tantrums, believe me! (but not on cleanliness, sadly) Thank goodness you stuck to your instincts and kept pushing for answers... look how well he is doing. Caleb is one lucky boy to have you as his mum Cindy. Big hugs to you.
xo

JustJess said...

Tears welling in my eyes I am nodding as I read this Cindy. We were relieved to discover Master 7's 'normal for him' too. Lovely post - so glad things are going well. Take care. x

sophie said...

wow, what a long journey. Caleb is such a little champion, all the more so for having such an intuitive mum. We know our kids better than anyone and I really get so jack of being told by professionals that there is nothing wrong when you know, in your core that there is. Well done for sticking to your guns and getting the answers you needed.

AnastasiaC said...

such a beautiful heartfelt post! ((hugs))...a long drive but Im sure a a wonderful one too Im sure - such a gorgeous picture, he is adorable!

Michelle said...

What an full and wonderful journey you are traveling with Caleb. Amazing post.
xx

Bek said...

Look at him in his mini formal wear. What a cutey! I love the way you talk about your parenting journey. Thanks for sharing your experience!

Hoppo Bumpo said...

What wonderful parents you both are - he is such a credit to you. Sadly not everyone is as open to listening to the words "asphergers autism". Good on you for your persistence - you're awesome.

Little Munchkins said...

Thanks for sharing your experience with us. It is a heartfelt and very touching, just reading it made me want to cry.

You are amazing parents, thanks again for sharing.

Rachel said...

Thank you for writing this post. My son is 6 and we have been told by a paediatrician that she thinks he has an ASD - we are now on the long drive towards getting a formal diagnosis of, I suspect, Aspergers. He is finding school tough but his teachers are being fantastic with him and so supportive with us. He is the most gorgeous, affectionate little boy and I wouldn't have him any other way. Like you say, the view is amazing.
Rachel x

CurlyPops said...

What an amazing journey you've taken to get where you are today.

flossy-p said...

This is such a tender, caring post. It must have been a huge relief to finally find some understanding. And it's great you've managed to help him so young, to find his right path, and right way of driving along it!

Rach said...

What a wonderful post Cindy - so beautifully written. And it is a very long road, with many potholes and curves and blind spots. Even with all the horrible bits, its the only road I want to be on...

Thank you for sharing this with us.

Jessi said...

Just gorgeous!! What a beautiful story and analogy of a long drive!! Thank You for sharing!

Jessi

Pip said...

What a lovely post (as usual!) It sounds like you've all got your 'L' plates on, on your long drive, but are making careful and steady progress. AND it sounds like you are having lots of wins (and the odd flat tyre) along the way. It ALSO sounds like you are remembering to enjoy your drive too. Thanks for writing such an honest, heartfelt post. I'm loving find out all about you.

Jetta's Nest said...

I love your long drive. I love reading what you write about your journey with your precious young Caleb. It's always so heartfelt and beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing and reminding me to step back from all the craziness and appreciate my boys for the little people that they are :)

Karin said...

Thank you for your post. It's beautiful.

inkcaravan said...

What beautiful words from a very warm and loving Mum.

Home Girl said...

i really enjoyed reading about your journey with caileb. sounds like its been through some pritty rough uncharted territory! i get the impression he is such a character and that life with him will be full of suprises, not the run of the mill. it must be wonderful to discover that although he is branded different by some he is florishing at kindy - sounds like his friends dig his quirks.thank you for sharing, i am always drawn to people who are 'different'. i think u are a fabulous mother and he will continue to shine with your positive approach xx

Lauren said...

I loved reading this post...thanks for sharing! Caleb sounds like a champ :-)

Beth said...

Thankfully we're moving into an era where Asperger's is becoming more mainstream (this has its drawbacks too though, with as much mis-information as information! ugh!). It's a diagnosis that's so new to Australia and many doctors are still adjusting to it - and doctors are so hard to adapt - so it's great that you made the push and went along with your gut instincts. He's definitely lucky to have such a dedicated and caring mum such as yourself. Good on you!!! :D