This year, my 7 year old son was finally diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. It's a form of high functioning autism. I've always been 'against' labeling, until I realised that it could actually be the way to get him the extra support he so desperately needed.
To us, he's just Rowan. He's different, unique and unconventional but so is everyone, and wouldn't it be boring if we were all the same ! He loves to collect bottle tops, hang upside-down off the sofa- usually naked, or wearing a cat costume. He likes milk, chocolate and fish fingers but hates anything spicy or chewy. He walks a bit funny, comes out with unusual phrases- and he is obsessed with aeroplanes, minecraft and black holes.
I like avocados, sushi and Prosecco, love having sparkly nails, and hate going in lifts. My husband loves Cypress Hill, hot curries and is scared of cows. Each to their own I say!
Autistic Spectrum Disorder ( ASD) is characterised by marked difficulties in behaviour, social interaction, communication and sensory sensitivities. Many parents have asked me how to go about getting a diagnosis.
The first thing to do is read up about your child's 'suspected' condition, be it autism or ADHD. Then make an appointment with your GP, with the express intention of getting a referal to a specialist paediatrician. Don't be fobbed off, and don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion. You will be your child's main advocate, and it may well be a long and testing journey- but well worth it.
The aim for many , is to get extra support within their child's school. People with ASD/ADHD often struggle both educationally and socially. Rowan was always being told off for 'not listening', or 'not sitting still, and fidgetting'. This 'bad behaviour' was actually a symptom of his condition. He also had problems with continence, making friends and bullying.
Altogether, it made school an extremely unsettling experience for him- and twice, we have pulled him out , to home educate. You can apply for an EHC Plan ( Educational Health & Care Plan) which will eventually allow your school additional funding for 1:1 support, and specialist equipment.
However, you don't need the EHC for you to request support from your school. Things you could suggest, may be a'wobble' cushion,'walking' breaks or fiddle toys, if your child is hyperactive and fidgetty. Ear defenders, or time in a quiet room if they have sensory issues.
Each school has a SENCO ( Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator) ask for a meeting with them, your child's class teacher, and the principal as soon as you have concerns.
As a parent carer, you may well need a bit of support and help yourself. Get in touch with the following groups for advice www.somersetsend.org.uk
or ring Somerset Parent Carers Forum on 01458 259384 .
I love my boy just how he is, and I think if the world was a bit more autistic, it would be a nicer place !
Published in Mid Somerset Series / Local World Media - 16/02/2017
I'm a 43 year old, mum of two little boys- currently living in Shepton Mallet in Somerset. I'm the Founder and Creative Director of Radio Shepton, a Stand up and comedian and spoken word performer, and write a regular column for The Wells and Shepton Mallet Journal. Which is the basis for my blog usually. I lived in Swedish Lapland for 7 years until 2014 where my boys were born. My partner and I ran a husky dog sledding business. Before that I was a poet, radio presenter, media lecturer, writer, TV producer, actress and burlesque performer ! I never want my life to be boring :)