Sorry for being so quiet lately!! But I’m sure you can imagine it gets pretty busy around here at times.
I have mentioned before that my eldest son has Global Development Delay (GDD). He was diagnosed with this about two and a half years ago, when he was around 4 years old.
We probably always knew that there was something “wrong” with him in the early years, but we kinda stuck our head in the sand with the thought “It’s all good. He will catch up in time!” But it was when he started kindergarten that the truth hit home.
We chose a very small private school, which my niece also attends and is flourishing. He was not toilet trained, but they were willing to work with us about that, well, they were at first. After that first day of school, one half day, the teacher came out to me when I was picking him up from, took me aside and said that we needed to get him in to see a speech therapist, occupational therapist, and pediatrician urgently. They informed me that it was in his best interest not to return back to kindy until he was a bit more “sorted” (for lack of a better term) I was in a bit of shock, but I knew she was right. I spent the rest of the afternoon in tears though.
So we pulled him out for the term, hoping to at least get him toilet trained to send him back. However, a term turned into a semester, and a semester turned into a year.
Over the next couple of days, I sat down and wrote a list of things that didn’t quite add up. I wrote the little things like how he was obsessed with tags on soft toys (he would wrap them around his fingers while sucking his thumb. It was his comforter. Cut the tag off and he wouldn’t touch the toy again) to the major problems like his daily multiple violent meltdowns that could last for hours, significant speech delay, and the toilet training (or lack thereof)
I was surprised when I was finished that I had written three pages, back to front!
Looking over it all, a little voice in my head said “It sounds like autism!” I did my research and found that I could tick off about 90% of the usual signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder. I felt, and still feel, that he had Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism on the spectrum. I havent mentioned everything that was on the list, so you may look and that and think “Nah, doubt it!”
As our town doesn’t have a resident pediatrician, we have one that flies into town every few months, and there is a long waiting list. So in the meantime, he started speech therapy and occupational therapy. We enrolled him in a daycare with a kindy program so that he could be around children his own age more often.
Last year, he started pre-primary. With the diagnosis of GDD, he was eligible for an education assistant during class. As he was (is) a flight risk, she would hover in the playground as well.
I have no idea where we would be if it wasnt for her!! She is an absolute star. She has the “My way, or no way!” attitude, which my son really responds to. Of course they batted heads along the way, but she was a huge helping factor in getting toilet trained during the day (which finally occurred about halfway through last year), she helped to deal with his meltdowns and guided him through his school work. His teachers were absolute stars, they also had that “my way” attitude. I’m hoping to be able to get the same teachers for my daughter when she starts pre-primary next year.
He has had massive improvements this year since starting grade one. He has less meltdowns, and is slowly getting more conscious of social standards, so he is making friends easily. The kids in his class are amazing. I would have expected some bullying, but they are completely aware of his limitations, and realise he doesn’t always understand. They help to guide him towards the right outcomes.
But we recently had some fantastic news! I had a phone call from his occupational therapist who said she was 100% satisfied with his accomplishments in the last six months, and feels comfortable discharging him from OT. This is a major achievement. He still has a long way to go, but she felt that he would be able to accomplish this on his own (with help from teachers and his aid of course) I was jumping for joy after this phone call!
We have had a long battle over the last few years getting our son to this point. During his autism assessment, it was decided that while he shows autistic traits, it wasnt enough to put him on the spectrum. This was incredibly frustrating when I see/hear about other children who have the diagnosis, and show the same characteristics as my son! It wasnt helped by the fact that the assessors said had they seen him 6-12mths beforehand (as we were on the waiting list for the assessment for almost a year) he absolutely would have been diagnosed with ASD. Can you imagine hearing that? So we missed out on heaps of funding he could have had to help his learning at school. That is the most frustrating part.
For the moment, we will take this discharge as a massive positive…which it is of course!
Wish him luck fo his development in the future, and I will keep you posted of his progress!!