All About Autism
Our Autism Story
It took a long time for us to realise that our son had more than just issues with his vision.
We genuinely thought his unease with strangers and his dependence on routine was a result of his earlier diagnosis of albinism. We didn’t realise that his phenomenal memory, constant questioning, inability to cope with change, fixation on books and Pixar movies, constant anxiety and his explosive tantrums were symptons of autism.
I vividly remember the first time the idea that he had autism was suggested to me. He had just turned 3 and his family daycare worker, who had previously worked with kids with autism, asked me whether we had ever considered that he may be on the spectrum. I looked at her, in shock, and quickly denied it. I mean, it was a ridiculous idea, I knew he had special needs but it was due to his vision problems. He couldn’t have a second diagnosis, life couldn’t be that cruel to him.
Soon afterwards, our youngest nephew was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. As I started to understand the challenges our nephew faced, the idea of our son having autism kept gnawing at me, until I could no longer ignore it.
I am afraid that I did keep my head in the sand for some time, grappling with the enormity of what we might be facing. I eventually realised that I had to do something so I educated myself by reading reference books about the disorder. I found with every description of typical autistic behaviour I read, my insides twisted with the recognition that they were also describing my son’s behaviours. I remember sobbing in the middle of Borders one day, knowing deep in my heart, that my son had autism.
Grieving for his ‘lost’ future the second time around was unbelievably painful – more so as I had to face it virtually on my own. My husband took a long time to accept that our son might have autism and I found myself doing the legwork to get the necessary assessments done to obtain a diagnosis. He eventually accepted the diagnosis (and he is my absolute rock now!) but our separate bouts of grieving meant that it took a long time for both of us to be in the same place – it was a horrible, uncertain, stressful time, I hope to never be in that mental place again.
Two days after my son’s 4th birthday, after having a massive meltdown in the paediatrician’s office, he got a diagnosis of high-functioning autism. We were referred to Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT) and by the end of the year we had secured a place in their Hunter School for him. He was educated there for 3 years, finally making a successful transition to a mainstream class in 2012.
In the years since, he’s thrived in a mainstream setting, recently moving to a gifted and talented class at his local high school. We now know that with the right supports, he’ll be able to do pretty much anything!
Check out the resources below for more information on autism.
Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT)
Amaze (Autism Victoria)