Yes people it’s that time of year when people reflect on the year almost gone. I could bore you with details of my year (it has been exceptionally good), but I wont. Instead I wanted to ask you to reflect on how far you and your children have come in this last year.
I know of one family whose year has been exceptional. Since January 2012 they have had an official diagnosis of Autism for each of their three boys. They have found an excellent special school that has accepted the two oldest (6 & 5yrs) they also have a specialist nursery for the youngest; he will be starting there next year. Since the oldest boys have been at the school their achievements have been remarkable. The oldest is now writing independently and there are signs of reading too (he made no0 progress in reading or writing for a year in mainstream), the second child is becoming more vocal and uses makaton a lot more too. Although all of this is fantastic the story doesn’t end there. To enable the boys to go to this wonderful school they have had to move house; 4 days before Christmas! But despite the autism (between them the boys cover the whole spectrum of difficulties) they all coped well with the disruption of the move.
Yet the story continues to develop. Mum has had heart health issues this year and dad has undergone a kidney transplant due to a progressive kidney disease that was slowly killing him, thankfully the transplant has, so far, been successful although there were times of worry. Mum is looking to get her own diagnosis of Autism too. The youngest of the boys also has chronic lung disease which can cause fitting and projectile vomiting on a fairly regular basis, and the middle child sleeps for around 4 hours a night. Each child has his own obsessions; sharks, dinosaurs and peppa pig.
Now this story may seem extreme, but all of it is true. My reason for telling you is to help those families out there who do not have Autism in their lives understand the complexities of life that autism can bring, regular visits to the hospital for assessments, and blood tests, visits with dieticians, behavioural support, educational psychologists and the inevitable trips to the GP. For families with autism their lives are very different. Nothing can be taken for granted, every outing needs to planned to cause the least disruption, every meal is planned around what the children will and can eat, medication needs to be considered, even toileting and personal care is a concern for some parents even as their child is way past the ‘normal’ toilet training stage. Live can be very difficult, but it is never boring.
The small improvements your child makes are so important, treasure them and don’t worry about regression or transferring skills. Stay positive look for the improvements. Celebrate achievements and accept your children just the way they are. Every child is special, and some are more special than others.
Have a great 2013, and look back at how far you’ve come in 2012.