When A Child Is Diagnosed With ASD
What to do when you find out that your child has an Autisic Spectrum Disorder.
Getting a Diagnosis
I wasn't always aware that there was a problem with my child. In fact, when he had his standard two year assessment, he was meeting all of his developmental milestones. I had two older children who are healthy and who did well academically. I had no reason to think that my third child would be any different.
I first became concerned shortly before my son's third birthday. We regularly attended a mother and toddler group, run by the local library, where the children would play, followed by snack time, story time and song time. My son had no interest in following the set routine and no interest in the other children. At snack time, he would lack coordination and spill his drink down himself. I could see by observing the other children who were the same age, that his behaviour was not "normal".
Concerned, I made an appointment with my health visitor, but promptly cancelled it, as I thought I was being silly. She was quite insistent that I attend however, and I was glad that I did, because initial tests showed that my son had very poor cognitive skills, comparitive to those of an 8 month old baby. His fine motor skills were also very poor, but his speech level was advanced for his age, a whole year ahead.
Following the visit to the health visitor, we started to receive appoinments to various assessments. We went to the local child development centre, where the doctor took a full medical history and observed my son doing various activities. We were then assigned to a local group called "Feel Good Friday", where the staff observed my son at play to see how he interacted with the other children and to observe his motor skills.
The results from these assessments showed that my son needed help from Occupational Therapy to improve his coordination, as well as help from a Speech and Language group that works with children who have difficulty communicating with one another. My son had good language skills, but very poor social skills.
The doctors, groups and therapy sessions were very helpful, but we still did not have a diagnosis. it was very hard to explain to people that he was "different", but we didn't have a name or label for his condition. I researched his symptoms online, and I concluded that he probably had Asperger Syndrome, which is an Autism Spectrum Disorder, but the children with Asperger's usually have high intelligence, despite their social and co-ordination difficulties.
My son displays a variety of symptoms. His anxiety levels are very high and he panics over very small things. He has trouble with self care, such as dressing himself, and was very late to be potty trained, still having regular accidents now, aged 6. His concept of reality is poor, and he doesn't always recognise danger, which makes him vulnerable.
He struggles socially and is a loner at school, having few friends and often being bullied. He finds group settings hard and prefers one on one tuition. He excels at reading and spelling but is very poor at maths.
When he got too old to attend the child development centre, we were placed under a new doctor, who asked us if we wanted a diagnosis. Of course, I answered yes, as I really wanted a label for this condition.
Early tests showed that he had Autism Spectrum Disorder, and more detailed questions completed by school staff and family showed that he had Asperger's Syndrome.
Now we have a diagnosis we are able to tap into resources for families affected by ASD, and receive the help we are entitled to.