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.