Not all children will display every textbook symptom of Autism. The medical community is still not able to completely understand it, but as a parent, you know your child best.
If you’re noticing some signs that your child may have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) it’s best to act sooner rather than later. Early intervention can make a world of difference.
Don't Let Anybody Dismiss Your Concerns
I knew my eldest was different to other kids. He would only play by himself at playgroup. He would hold his hands over his ears when it was music time, and even hide under tables. He spoke in full sentences very early and discussed the different types of clouds using their proper names with my Nanna at great length. He much preferred adult company.
To say he wasn’t a great sleeper was an understatement. If things went wrong, or varied from routine he had what I know now as a ‘meltdown’, but what everybody else said was a tantrum. My concerns were regularly dismissed because I was a first-time mum, most likely I just wasn’t coping. By the time he was five he was diagnosed with ADHD, wasn’t coping with school and wasn’t the happy little boy he used to be at home.
I knew there was still something not quite right, and being in a small country town our services were quite limited. I pushed on, until finally someone pointed me in the right direction to a child psychologist and we got an ASD diagnosis at age 8. It hurts my heart to think of all he went through before then, because I was constantly dismissed. It’s hard to not listen to others, but if you’re concerned keep pushing until you get the help your child needs.
Do Your Research
Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) have lots of great resources on their website as do Autism Awareness Australia. You’re not expected to know everything there is to know about ASD as there are so many variations, but getting educated can really help you to understand your child better. I could list a whole bunch of early signs and symptoms of Autism here, but the research is so very detailed, it’s best to look into it on a reputable site, or through a medical professional.
Get a Diagnosis
It sounds simple, but sometimes it can feel completely daunting to take that step. Put your discomfort aside though, you certainly wouldn’t hold off on attending to a broken bone. The earlier you can get a diagnosis, the quicker you will have access to services and support. Have a chat to your Child and Maternal Health Nurse or make an appointment with your GP. Come prepared with a list of questions or things you’ve been noticing. Your GP can refer you to a Paediatrician, and if you still don’t get the answers you need, a Child Psychologist.
Find out about services and support
Talk to other parents, join forums and look for services in your state and town. ASD is so much more commonly recognised than it was. There are support groups for parents, social skills groups for kids, lots of different programs and teams of specialists who can all help to make life run a little more smoothly.
Keep on loving them to bits
Sometimes you can get so caught up in worry, diagnosis and intervention you can forget to just be there enjoying the moment with your child. No matter what the diagnosis, every child is a unique gift and as time goes on you will be amazed at how much you learn from them and how much they give you. There will be days when you cry from pure frustration and days where reaching a milestone will make you cry tears of pure joy. People will still judge and give advice, take what you need and disregard the rest. Life with a child on the spectrum may be a little different to how you’d planned it, but sometimes the most amazing parts of a journey are those that are unexpected.