…an alphabet of 26 letters to learn.
A… is also for autism.
This is the first in a series of 26 blog posts exploring the ‘tags’, language and names we use as adults when someone sees the world differently.
That someone is my son but probably all of us in many ways.
My hope is, the blogs might help empower another parent (and probably me) as I write them. I feel some relief as I’m finally able to put words on a page to describe a little of our journey.
Before he was 3…
L was not a ‘good sleeper’. Most nights he would wake up every 20-40minutes and cry and need help and cuddles to go back to sleep. He was breast fed until he was just over two.
We found white noise, red light and him being cooler helped a little. It was rough, there were nights I thought I might die or get cancer or just not be able to get up in the morning.
Not many people understood why I didn’t just shut the door and let him cry but the ones who did were my liquid gold.
“Our Children are our biggest teachers” anon
Back when he was 3…
Back when he was three, my son spent approx 10 hours a week with an amazing childminder, 10 with her preschool and the rest with us. He loved lining animals up, all the dinosaurs, being outside, music and being with me.
His disliked lots of foods and sometimes busy places. We laboured over how we might delay him starting school. It wasn’t financially viable for us and we knew he’d start school at 4. We love his little school.
Back when he was 4…
Back when he was 4, he celebrated a super hero scooter birthday party with over 50 people (which he found completely overwhelming).
He started to explore a fascination with super-heros as well as dinosaurs.
He started school at 4 years and 11 days old. He was mostly very unhappy going to school and towards the end of his first year, he had his first ‘assessment’.
It was BRUTAL as parents taking him into an environment he never wanted to go into. We talked about ALL the other options a lot. We were assured he was ok for the most part during the school day.
I started to speak to others more openly about how L sees the world.
We processed some of the emotions of moving from having an ‘august born boy who was struggling in school’ to a boy who with an ‘SEN plan’ who might never learn like his peers.
Actually although both things are true neither of them matter… if he’s happy.
Back when he was 5…
Back when he was 5, we had a small birthday tea party with six of his favourite people for his birthday at a local cafe. We hunted for animals I’d planted in the trees with luggage tag labels.
He grew in confidence and hilarity and his fascinations shifted from dinosaurs to Pokemon.
He learnt every single letter of the alphabet. He wrote his name for the first time independently and also ‘cat’. He can write every number up to 12 but not always. His school kept him in the reception class as a year one so he could learn in a play based environment and I am so grateful to them and their understanding.
Now he’s 5 and a half…
He’s super happy at school. I’ve signed a form to give permission for him to have an assessment from a SEN professional who specialises in Autism. I’ve had a break though with his reading by suggesting we try a green filter – it was intuitive on my part but it is a thing. (amazon link)
I’ve started a notebook of the things we’re trying to help him learn. I’m meeting with a private maths tutor who specialises in SEN support.
I feel a mixture of things; sad it’s taken this long to understand why he never wanted to try to write or read (although lots of people assure me this isn’t a long time in comparison to what can happen in the school system)
I’m confused as to why we don’t talk about autism or dyslexia or adhd or understand better how to help very young children who are (probably) ‘mildly’ on one of these spectrums.
I’m also very hopeful too, I feel more aligned in our decision for him to be in school and not with us at home. (We thought about home schooling but our home is not the right environment for his learning).
Do I think my son has autism? Not based on the internet description no. Would it bother me if he does? No it really wouldn’t because as far as I know being autistic doesn’t affect happiness.
PS – I think I am definitely on the spectrum when I read a description.
I am also an ’empath’ and I can read what people are feeling which sometimes is incredibly overwhelming and noisy for me. Especially in meetings.
In crowded places, I often feel sick and at gigs I usually am sick. (see also Highly Sensitive Person)
I am being honest about this part of who I am because perhaps if I was five and a half now I would also be monitored for autism. It’s helped me succeed in lots of ways in my chosen career and it’s part of the holistic education I give my son as his mum.