More and more kids are being diagnosed with autism so the more we can understand them and sooner we can do it the better!
The 2nd of April is World Autism Day. This time last year I wouldn't have given much thought about it. Perhaps just thanked my lucky stars that my kids didn't suffer with this strange disorder that continues to baffle me somewhat.
This year it means a lot. Mikko was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder on the 2nd of December 2010. I was expecting it but it was still a masive shock. I had suspected it for around 4 months already and had brought up the possibilty with a couple of medical professionals who both reassured me that he was perfectly typical. It did little to comfort me so I was hoping on D-day (diagnosis day) that I would validated and relieved. But I didn't, I felt sad and worried for my boy and for our family.
A lot of people ask me what made me suspect autism.
So here is his story so far......
Mikko was born at just before 4pm on February 7th 2008. He was an elective c-section. Mikko's big brother Finn was born by emergency c-section 2 years before. With some trepidation we planned a VBAC birth for Mikko but at 42.5 weeks and no signs of any action he was delivered by a sceduled caesearn section and we welcomed him into our family. He was 8lbs 6oz and absolutely perfect.
Like Finn, Mikko was a very happy smiley baby and met all his developmental milestones in his first year.
He just fitted so perfectly into our growing family. I have never had a tough day in parenting since Mikko came along.
I remember the first two weeks with Finn being a whirlwind of all things new mixed in with heaps of visitors and a whole lotta sleep deprivation. Not that Finn was a difficult baby, far from it in fact, but it was a steep learning curve for me particularly the sleep deprivation!
It was different with Mikko, just easy from day one. He was no cruisier than Finn but I'd had an easy birth (so to speak!) and more practise being a Mummy and just never had one of those "Oh God let it be over!" days ever.
Retrospectivly perhaps, maybe, in some small way, maybe, maybe, MAYBE he was already different but it's very hard to tell or know for sure. I always felt he needed me more than Finn did but then Finn is Mr Social Butterfly and wasn't in the slightest but clingy so Mikko just seemed like a typical baby.
By the time Mikko was 17 months I was pregnant again. With boys like these who couldn't want more!
I was sick for the first 20 weeks of my 3rd pregnancy and in that time I used the TV (naughty Mummy) to keep the boys occupied for parts of the day so I could rest. I remember laughing at how funny Mikko was watching TV. Absolutely entrnced by it but he didn't sit and stare, he jumped and shrieked with joy and when it went off he would cry and cry and bring me the controls and he learnt the word 'moffee' (movie). He'd also stopped waving and pointing and stopped saying Daddy and Finn and a few other words he'd been saying.
When Kasper was born I brought up the fact that Mikko was 2 but still didn't have many words and couldn't put 2 words together with a healthcare prefessional but she wasn't concerned so neither was I.
Colin was the first to mention Autism. He was only half serious, and neither of us knew much about the disorder anyway. I laughed it off and told him "No way" and that Mikko was much too happy and smiley. My image of of an autistic child was of that little boy in that Bruce Willis action flick and Mikko was nothing like him.
Still concerned over the lack of language and also his new trick which was constantly wanting to touch me and pinch me, I went to our GP and raised my concerns. She said he seemed completely normal but did discover that he had glue ear and recommended he get grommets. She also referred his for hearing tests and developmental assessments.
I cried on the way home. I knew it wasn't glue ear that was holding him back. I'd met heaps of kids with grommets and they weren't like Mikko.
I started to google Autism and Mikko's odd habits and suddenly everything fit.
For Colin I think the grommets were a shining beakon of hope that he truely believed in. He was sure that they would sort him out so to speak and I remember him holding me and reassuring me one night that it would all be to do with his glue ear but I already what it was.
When Mikko was assessed on the 2nd of December I think the Doctor knew what we were dealing with pretty quick. One of the tests was holding up a picture with 4 everyday objects on it. I was told to ask Mikko to point to the one he would most likely understand. I picked the car (he's such a boy!) and Mikko proceeded to take the card and rub it on his cheek. I had to laugh at it and it still makes me giggle even now.
After giving me the diagnosis the Dr asked me if I had any questions. I think I had at least a hundred but couldn't for the life of me think of one. I wished that I had a smug 'told-you-all-so' feeling but I didn't. I wanted to be wrong so so badly.
Since that day I have met many people who are so supportive of Mikko and it is very reassuring to have a sort of team around him that will be with us till he reaches school age (when the school system will become our new 'team'). I have also had a lot of time to process everything. The first 2 months I couldn't stop thinking about it, about him, about his future about how hard it could potentially be, every single minute.
Now it's just 4 months in (early days!) and these days I still think about it all the time. But I am a little calmer and a lot more positive.
Within a week or 2 of d-day we had to rush Finn into Starship Children's hospital with intussuception and then back again a day or 2 later with a resulting infection. It was so frightening and I was a bit of a mess for a while. The whole experience of having your child very sick scared the hell out of me and rocked me to my core.
|Our big boy Finn, who recovered fine by the way!|
It was, however, a wonderful opportunity to see how very, very lucky we are. There were some seriously ill children in the hospital, many of whom will probably not live to see adulthood.
I have 3 healthy boys and I am so very thankful for that.
This probably sounds really silly and selfish but since I met Colin I have always worried that something was going to go majorly wrong in my life. It was just that thing were so perfect and so wonderful that I felt that I surely couldn't be this lucky? Before we had kids I would worry that something was going to happen to Colin (love you schnoogy!), when we were trying for Finn I was worried that I wouldn't be able to have children. When pregant with Finn I was terrified we'd lose him and Mikko seemed to take forever to be conceived so I was convinced we wouldn't be able to have a 2nd baby. I am a bit of a worrier - get the picture?
Is Mikko's autism that 'thing' I was worrying about? I hope so. I pray that it is. Because if it is, then that is absolutely fine be me. I can handle it. He is healthy, he is FULL of potential and I love him.