Before having children I had NO idea what Autism was other than something some people had in an institution somewhere. I was completely ignorant to the fact there was a spectrum and how different people could be affected by it. I didn't know how it would impact OUR life.
We have two children diagnosed with Autism. Our son Elijah was diagnosed when he was 4.5 years old and our daughter Zippi was diagnosed when she was 3. My husband is also on the spectrum. This has made for a very interesting, often challenging but also incredibly rich and joyful life. We have learnt much about persevering, about not judging based on outward appearances and about how much someone can suffer even when they 'look' good to others.
Autism is a disorder of neural development that affects the way a person communicates, processes and interacts with people and the world around them. Please click to read more about what Autism is and how it is diagnosed.
You'll read a lot about our journey on this blog. You'll read about the highs and lows of what we go through on a day to day basis along with strategies and tools we employ to try and best reach out to our kids.
Below is what I used to have written here when we just had one child diagnosed. I thought I'd keep it here for posterity's sake.
One day I might do a more in depth post than this but at the moment this is what I feel to write.
From about 2.5 years, we thought there were some very unusual and somewhat worrying things about our precious second born. It was very hard because when we brought up our concerns with dr's and others, people would say that we shouldn't compare him with our first born and that he would change as he grew older.
The problem was, was that the older he got, the more obvious the issues were and the harder it became for us all. He was very angry and seemed to over react to so many things and situations. He was super sensitive about EVERYTHING from a gentle breeze on his skin (which he said felt like bees stinging him) to what he ate (gagging on many foods). Simply going to the shops was a nightmare as he seemed to shut down or get completley overwhelmed and overstimulated in a heartbeat. He had some unusual fixations too that he seemed to not be able to go without like his Thomas trains + certain clothes. He ordered things in particular ways and had massive meltdowns if we changed plans unexpectedly. He took all our words literally and couldn't understand if we were having a joke with him like, 'get out of town!' (once when i said that to him when he told me something and i was so excited for him. He yelled and cried, "Why do you want me to go out of town? Do you want to get rid of me?!") He struggled coping constantly with other people (especially his peers at preschool) to the point where he was hurting others and himself more and
Of course as his mama, watching all of this unfold in our son's life was one of the worst things I've had to deal with. We felt like he didn't feel loved, that he didn't love us and that he was withdrawing into his own little world. It was so painful. We constantly cried out to God to help us and He did.
He lead us to getting him assessed by Aspect (formerly the NSW Autism Ass) and they diagnosed Autism Disorder at the age of 4.5 years. (He had previously been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and some physical Dispraxia too). We had God perfect peace in the midst of it and knew that this was what it was. The Lord was so faithful to us as always + we began to get the tools we needed to help him. From diets to the 123 Magic program, from specific books to read to basics to reteach our son, God lead us through it all.
One of the things he lead us too through a friend of mine was a low salicylate diet (we'd been on a completely preservative free diet for a year before he was diagnosed but it had made little to no difference in him). Within 48 hours of being on the low salicylates (as well as the preservative free diet) we saw him drawing his first pictures other than faces! He drew an apple and a dolphin and we knew it was only the start! He LOVES drawing (and is VERY good at it!). Other people began to notice the differences too. We tried ABA therapy, I wore a lanyard with laminated pictures around my neck to help teach him the basics of communication. We had some therapy for him too and eventually, God lead us to stopping this.
Now, it is very hard to pick out any regular signs of Autism in our son. It is like seeing a real life miracle in our family every day. He is now reading + writing. He has learnt how to cope socially + LOVES going weekly to the church kids club interacting with many other children there in a variety of age groups. He serves others with a willing heart. He knows he is loved and is so affectionate now with us all. He has a HUGE amount of empathy (which i never thought i would see). His sensory processing issues have almost vanished (although meal times can still sometimes be a tough one). He participates in our family in everyway from chores to do, to homeschooling, to being in photographs willingly, to wanting to write letters to friends. He has changed in so many ways and that, we believe, was answer to prayer. God is getting us through any rough times we may still encounter and the future is incredibly bright for our beautiful son.
If you would like to learn more about Autism, the Autism Spectrum or Aspergers, I'd highly recommend a visit to the following...
The Luke Priddis Foundation
and for further information on Sensory Processing Disorder, please click Here.
I hope that is helpful. Please feel free to contact me through my email tab to ask any further questions.
Much love xox