Wednesday, 27th May 2020
The extract below was written last August, in a cafe, when I'd finally decided to write about my journey with Autism as a mum. I put it on a previous blog site, but have decided to start really writing about this subject to help any parents/family members/friends out there. I actually never published it, so this is my first official post. Here we go...
This is the first time I’ve decided to ‘go public’ and write about this topic. I’ve been rather absent for the last few months (on the previous blog), but with good reason. Since about July of this year, I’ve been processing the possibility that Grace has Aspergers Syndrome (now classed under the larger umbrella of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, since the term Aspergers is being replaced and the traditional distinction no longer made.)
It’s been something of an emotional rollercoaster. The Autism has been on my radar for quite a while (since G was about 2), for various reasons. I asked them to to keep an eye on it at nursery in January of this year. And fast forward to Parents Evening, 7 months later, and it's clear that something is ‘going on.’
After a chat with my sister-in-law, who gave me enormous support, I took her advice and booked a meeting with the pre-school manager to clarify some of the issues which had come up. One of these was G’s need to hide under the table at the beginning of each day, alongside her decision to be entirely mute on other occasions, and her difficulties interacting with her peers. As you can imagine, this was upsetting news. All you want for your child is their happiness.
To cut a long story short, I asked the pre-school manager to basically not pull any punches and, on the back of my Dad’s advice, to ask how unusual G’s behaviours were. ‘We ARE seeing some of the signs’, was her response. To which, I have to confess, I felt a huge sense of relief. Someone in the know was listening. Someone understood. She told me that sometimes you can feel like you’re going mad in these circumstances - and that’s exactly how I’d felt. For rather a long time. And it was getting worse.
Then, shortly after, came the sense of grief and worry. If this were true, what would life look like? Would we have the bond we’d always had since G was tiny? Would she be happy? Would she make friends? Would school be okay for her? What would life be like?? Would she be able to manage relationships when she was older?
All the questions I never anticipated came rushing in - all in one morning. The reality of this possibility was starting to dawn. I started to feel worried for my little girl.
So here we are now in August, nearing September and a new start for G at the nursery attached to her future school. Thank goodness I love her teacher, on first meeting, and feel that she'll get the support she needs. It’s two weeks away now so watch this space.
Meanwhile I console myself with books and strategies to manage the meltdowns (different to tantrums, by the way), feel like I’m not alone in this, gain some semblance of ‘control’ (not in the sense that we know it, of course) and to inspire hope within me that G’s many gifts and talents can be nurtured and appreciated by the wider world out there.
If you want to know more, check out the following fascinating website: www.aspiengirl.com, for an insight into how Autism presents very, very differently in girls and how it is all rather new terrain.