2 February 2017
Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Parent’s Perspective
My son Joey was diagnosed with autism in November 2016 at the age of eight. As for many families, this diagnosis did not come easily.
As a toddler he was speech delayed, and when his words did come, he would copy the dialogue from his favourite TV shows; the squeak’s and squawks of ‘Macca Pacca’ of In the Night Garden, the exclamations of the Welsh character in Fireman Sam, ‘Norman’, and ‘Diego’ from Go, Diego, Go. We took Joey to speech therapy, which he was generally disinterested in, and I was told not to rule out Autism. I of course shunned this suggestion, at the time I thought “diagnosis” was a dirty word, and carried on.
Joey had paediatric and psychological assessments and the reports always came back describing him as an engaging child, quirky, but Asperger’s was ruled out. Joey found it hard to make friendships at preschool and he often could not understand the behaviours of his peers and would copy the “naughty” kids who he found very amusing. He would have a meltdown when a large group would sing “Happy Birthday” and he would need constant reminding of the order in which we were doing things in the day.
Now in primary school, Joey’s “traits” have become more pronounced. He struggles with focus, his comprehension can be an issue and yes, his social interaction with his peers is still a struggle. Joey is a very social person, however there is only so long his peers want to hear about Lego in minute detail! Joey’s diagnosis was not unexpected and has assisted to explain some of his “quirks” and will hopefully lead to some positive intervention for him.
One positive of this diagnosis is that Joey was introduced to the ASDESI Holiday Kids Klub. Initiated by the Kollege of Knowledge Kommittee for Kids (KKKK), ASDESI (Autism Spectrum Disorder Education, Support and Information) is an Interchange Australia program providing services to families with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The ASDESI Kids Klub has opened up to Joey a range of activities and social interactions that he was unable to access before. He is excited to go each day, has made friendships and his confidence has grown. He proudly tells his school friends the wonderful activities he has done in the holidays from surfing to puppet making, movies to golf. Being an only child, the holidays could be a long, lonely time for Joey. When you are a parent, your heart beaks when your child’s heart breaks and your hopes soar when they are happy. I feel confident knowing he is with people that understand him and he is not judged.
For more information about the ASDESI Program, please contact Amber Hall. Ph: 1300 112 334.