To Oui or Not to Oui?

That’s OUR question..

We talk often about our victories and challenges with our autistic son but we haven’t written a lot on our daughter, N. N is a gregarious, lively, effervescent little 4 year old. She might occasionally be accused of being a bit of a drama queen but her endearing kindness and generosity of heart is something we are so incredibly proud of, we surrender to the “fancy pants” nature of her dramatics and just let her be.

She is too smart for her own good. We have been told more than once that she’s a chatty cathy at school, more so because she’s bored with the curriculum than disrespecting authority. She is extraordinarily creative and is constantly creating her own songs, painting pictures, telling us about the gang of imaginary friends and what they are doing “hanging out” in her room.

All this to say that we are now at one of our first mega cross roads in making a parenting decision that could significantly affect N’s school career and either put her on a path of great success and adventure or have her starting the list of “things my parents did to make me turn out this way”. The decision?

French Immersion.

I know…this is truly not the most agonizing decision a parent needs to make but there are a lot of little pieces to the puzzle that are effecting our decision on this. In part, the decision is being swayed by the fact that N has an autistic brother… very close in age that (over the past year) has really grown into a reliance on each other that I’m not 100% sure we want to change anytime soon.

The Pros

  1. Establishing learning of a new language which could greatly assist in career decisions, travel, and so much more
  2. Learning french at a young age would potentially set her up to be capable of learning other languages easier as she grows up
  3. This could provide her the challenge she needs to keep her engaged and enjoying school
  4. This could be something that is hers…and hers alone. I often worry about her getting her fair attention from us. We are so very cognizant these days of making sure SHE gets big props when she accomplishes something, gets alone time with each parent and even gets disciplined in the same way we treat T.
The Cons
  1. N (as young as she is) has taken on a maternal protection of T at school and helps guide him when they are at daycare together or when they come home having done the same curriculum. Conversely, T adores N and protects her if ANYONE gets upset with her. Their connection as brother and sister at this age is fierce and they truly play and interact almost as if they are twins than 18 mths apart. It’s beautiful and I’m not sure how drastically it would affect both of them if we made this choice.
  2. As much as she is bright, I have heard some terrible stories of how much kids struggle in learning regular subjects in a different language, so much so that if they choose to leave the french program, they are years behind other kids and occasionally have trouble catching up
  3. The daycare and school we have the both of them at right now are amazing and we worked hard with them in the development of assistance for T, not to mention the wonderful friends that N has at the school where she would have none at the new school. This would mean two drop-offs, two pick-ups, twice the school activities

There you have it. My quick synopsis of where we are struggling and time is running out. I ran into another mom the other day and she indicated that they are close to a waiting list at the French Immersion and we had better get a move on. She also indicated that the school is darker, dingier and the staff don’t seem to be AS interested in working with parents on their kids success. Fabulous!

So I am appealing to you, the reader, to let me know your thoughts on whether we should move ahead or stay status quo?

How the IPad has saved my bacon..and kept me smiling at my kids

I know this post might create a bit of animosity with certain peeps. You know, the ones who don’t believe in TV..but this is an homage to today’s world of technology and finding a way to live the life of sanity in a world that is chock a block full of flurried activities, kids hopped up on goofballs, media infusing into every dimension of our lives, and the constant desire for “balance”.

So it is here I make the statement, that I truly think the Ipad saved my bacon (or at least for now, my sanity)…and had it not been for its beauty of creating the ability to compromise, share, educate, entertain and satiate the desires of one 5 year old Autistic little guy and his 4 year old bossy boots sister, I’m not sure I would be in such a happy place at the start of 2012.

Here are 3 examples of how our lives have personally changed with the addition of a valuable piece of technology.

Mornings

  • Mornings were a disaster. Full of hyped up, non-listening moments of repetitive requests to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth and get out the door. Usually ended up with a meltdown (Depending on the day it could either be a parent OR a kid- take your pick) but nonetheless, it wasn’t typically a happy experience. But one crazy day in the fall, my darling husband introduced the IPad and the insanely fabulous games it can produce (like Angry Birds) and suddenly our little guy turned into an angel. Why? Because we employed the First (list of all tasks required to get ready for school) and Then tactic (you can have 5 minutes of playing games before we go). We don’t have to give promise playing every morning now, its just the matter of T has started to recognize that good behaviour reaps good rewards and it is working amazingly well.
Restaurants
  • Any regular kid gets tired of waiting at a restaurant for food. Our daughter is exceptionally driven by food and can turn Medusa on you in a nano-second if she’s hungry (she gets that from her mom) whereas T often finds the crayon drawing papers to be an exercise in frustration as he loses focus quickly and finds challenges when he can’t pick something up or stay in the lines. Enter the IPad, a portable chance for brother and sister to amicably take turns playing a game together, doing word recognition, drawing, spelling, you name it (they know if they don’t play nice its gone) and mom and dad to have a small chance at catching up with each other without having to be on 100% of the time we are out.
Grocery Shopping
  • Quite often in the past would translate directly to H E Double hockey sticks if I had the kids with me. Imagine Groundhog Day and every time I went, it would be a battle ROYALE…constantly asking to stay in the cart, (or close to the cart), Don’t disappear around the corner- (I grew up with a mom who has the kids kidnapped the minute i lose sight of them), singing ridiculous songs to keep them entertained, begging T not to hide under the cart for fear of appendage loss. The entire experience would have the kids upset, me upset and ready for a drink the minute I walked in the door. Voila, we share the Ipad now with me downloading our whole shopping list via epicurious while the kids play and often we are playing against each other while shopping. This has taken something that was causing me to go grocery shopping at 11pm or to suffer through avec the kids to something I actually find enjoyable with them now.

Yes, I know some of you are horrified that it sounds like I am using the Ipad as a babysitter. Maybe I am but I am doing it responsibly and in ways that help my family manage that illustrious balance we all desire and keeps a much happier group together when we get home. I’m not reaching for the wine and I am finding I am smiling more when we roll into the parking lot after our adventures. Think about it.

** I’d like to salute those who have gone before us without technology at their side. The pioneers of parenthood if you will. I once asked my grandma how she managed to raise 4 kids and stay relatively jovial..her answer..”Sometimes, you’d just have to leave the kids with the neighbours, go for a walk and treat yourself to a glass of wine”. Grandma, I’m in!

Our Autistic son destined for a team?

I sit here. Watching my guy skirting around the ice, wobbling, “hockey ready” (our translation: keeping the stick aka:weapon on the ground) and holding my breath till he gets off the ice.

T is loving hockey. Like loves it in a way that he will put down the mouse, step away from the computer, go get dressed, stop doing whatever he is doing to happily head to hockey and get his skates on. You can tell he feels part of a team and embraces the notion of having friends at hockey that he loves to see.

We thought because of his enthusiasm, this might not be as bad as we expected..and that he would come out of this Hockey Skills program with the possibility of playing for an actual team…the verdict is still out..

There are good weeks (many of them in fact) as I watch, amazed, as he gets up and falls down, gets up and falls down, tries and retries to get the puck in the net, over and over again with an incredible amount of determination to keep going.

Then there are bad weeks. The kind of weeks were he is all over the place, skating off in numerous directions, nearly pelting his fellow players with his stick, not listening to the coaches, and seeing them get frustrated over his lack of focus.

They know he is Autistic and has trouble with broad or multiple instructions but you can tell with certain instructors, this is simply 1 of a dozen classes they are teaching this week and taking the time to chunk things down is way too much energy. I don’t blame them…most of them are young guys just making cash to do other things and working with a special needs kid is not necessarily something on their agenda. I’m not sure that at their age, I would have been any different.

So we watch, hardly breathing…keeping count of the good moments to compensate for the not so good ones…reassuring ourselves that he’s not the only one lying on the ice, getting into it with another player, or taking off because he simply does not want to listen anymore.

A couple of examples of our not so great moments..

1) The moment I had to run down to the ice to reinforce that your hockey stick should not actually be held like a tomahawk and attempting to show a friend that he was being mean by responding like a tomahawk was not the solution (he was like THIS close to schmuckin this poor kid in the helmet)

2) Having to watch a repeated antagonist (let’s call him a poop disturber) who constantly jars/jabs/hooks kids (especially T)  and then complains to the coach that one of the kids retaliated and pushed him back. Let’s just say I have already pegged this guy as one of the mean guys on Glee who throw slushies in everyone’s face to make up for their own inadequacy.

and a few great moments…

1) Watching the little guy head towards the goal…focused, driven, bound to score…and then he missed…and missed..and missed…but the fact that he would try, miss and go grab the puck to reposition in front of the net until he actually scored was phenomenal and a proud triumph for our whole family.

2) The time where he walked away from that antagonist…just asked him to leave him alone and simply skated away ??? #epicwin

I’m not sure if T will ever actually be a part of a hockey team (if he does ends up participating, for sure he will be a bruiser Defenseman…making sure NOBODY got near his goal) but for now…we have hope. Hope that this is an experience that he can continue to be a part of, not hurt anyone in the process, enjoy and take tremendous pride in what he accomplishes. That’s all we care about. Nothing more.

Well…and I hope if he makes the big leagues that he plays for the JETS 🙂 They are my hometown team after all ..:)

What I’m Thankful For: Twitter to Wine to Work/Life Balance

I am working on a project all about Thanks next year. I can’t hardly wait…but I have to exercise patience while we wait for people to make decisions, agree to ideas and come to the table with the support needed to make this effort as huge as we want it to.
While we wait, I have been reflecting on what I’m Thankful for after living through a fairly turbulent albeit incredibly exciting year. Below are a few “Thankfuls” I have realized have been a major part in getting me to where I am these days… happy, fulfilled, and getting closer to balanced every day.

From Twitter to Wine to Work/Life Balance, life is good.
  • I am Thankful for a husband who is truly a partner & gets that in this period of our lives he is the cheerleader, supporter, parent, chief bottle washer and laundry keeper upper. These days I have definitely been the worker bee (this pendulum has swung many times throughout our relationship) but I think he sees that I am energized and excited by what I’m doing vs coming home in a big giant stressball.
  • I am Thankful that being forced into a career change has helped create a much stronger work/life balance than I’ve ever had before in my life. I had a friend recently post on her blog about the time element of work/life balance, discussing the fact that you are never really “on” and “off” working freelance or for yourself. I look at it from a different perspective and see all the other positive elements of that work/life balance, opportunities I have had a chance to enjoy since starting up my business again. A few examples…I can take my son to his speech pathology appt every week without having to beg permission or explain to a boss: I have been able to volunteer at my children’s school, which feels good and right: I can choose when to go workout to stay healthy and focused (certain weeks it doesn’t always work, but I am doing it a heck of a lot more than when I was working corporate side): and my overall happiness is balanced and positive..I don’t rush to get out of the house in the morning…I take a deep breath to enjoy a quiet moment at times…because I can.
  • I am Thankful that I am working on projects that truly resonate with me vs. slogging/marketing products for the sake of a paycheque. Figuring out and coming into my own on what I like to do, the strategy I enjoy developing and the social media engagement that plays a major role in my business.
  • I am Thankful for Social Media. I think in a world of working on your own and working from remote locations, Twitter and Facebook is a way to keep in touch..meet around the virtual water cooler and maintain that base social need people have to stay connected. I am also incredibly Thankful for Twitter. In the past year, I have met online and in real life, some of the most beautiful (and hilarious) people I have ever had the privilege of getting to know. I have such fondness for so many of them and enjoy the daily laughter, quips, support and encouragement that these tweeps have sent my way, and I in turn want to do the same.
  • I am Thankful that I can now fit into Banana Republic sizing (They have fabulous work/life balance cross-over clothing for the fabu working from home gig) because of actually getting into exercising and running specifically, learning to endure it and proudly achieving some major accomplishments this year.
  • I am Thankful for wine…this just an ode to the fact that a glass of wine can somehow magically soothe the day away, be enjoyed at a party, insinuate a romantic moment, and be the perfect company to a girls night out…
  • I am Thankful for friends. Real life, got your back, biggest fan, encouraging friends.  I didn’t realize how deeply those friendships went until so many changes happened in our lives. When I lost my job, I got Congratulations : When I decided to start my business again, I got absolute faith that I could accomplish it: When T was diagnosed,  we got “what can we do?”: When I don’t know how to talk about Autism and the roller coaster of emotions I have felt, they have listened, talked, hugged, been a shoulder, asked questions and quietly waited until we have found the ability to ask for help..Those friends have gotten me through so much and I cannot express to them how much I love them but hopefully as they read this post, they realize how very special they are.  THANK YOU.

Goals & Autism- It’s all about Changing Perspective

You wouldn’t know our son is Autistic if you looked at him. In fact, you wouldn’t even know if you spoke with him. (Most of the time) But sometimes… when things get hairy, loud, overexciting, you start to see that tiny minute difference creep out in the way he is responding to stimulating circumstances. At that moment, you can almost physically see the switch flip in his brain and slightly cringe at what that means you are about to get next.

Sometimes, its an abundance of energy so heightened that you think he might literally bounce off the wall..sometimes a disconnection to the situation that I often wonder if he suddenly disappeared to a planet all on his own..and sometimes an uncontrollable upset or anger that will take quite awhile to get him back to a calm state. Eventually we do

get him back to calm and move on to the next moment, challenged with figuring out what set him off and what we can do better the next time.

We struggle a lot with how much of the energy, excitement, etc.. is just that of a 5 year old boy and how much of it is Autistic behaviour? As this first year of diagnosis journeys on, I’ve noticed we are becoming far quicker to recognize where the set off points might be and some of the measures we can take to better manage through those potential challenging situations.

A big challenge is when T completely disengages from an activity. At first, we didn’t know whether it was necessary to share t

hat he was Autistic to a teacher, hoping that he was going to be so interested in the activity that it wouldn’t be noticeable. Yeah…no…not so much. We have learned that it is much better to explain than watch them get frustrated with his behaviour, explaining that you need to “chunk” down instructions instead of a quick overview. A simple example would be rather than saying “Get Dressed”, it’s better to say “Put your pants on, your t-shirt on and then your socks”.

Far more successful in solo activities that with team oriented sports (Soccer was a disaster but skiing was phenomenal) my husband and I came to a header this year. Do we or don’t we sign him up for hockey? Every dad dreams of his kid playing hockey but given our experience with soccer, nei

ther of us wanted to endure the frustration and challenges that might come with it. Our comprimise was a Hockey Tips for Tots…it got him out on the ice and learning the technique to play hockey without the actual pressure of the game.

So we took a big deep breath, and bit the bullet. The first practice went about as well as

expected, with challenges in getting all the unfamiliar awkward gear on but then, by the second week, T started asking when he was going to get to play hockey next. We were shocked and pleasantly surprised that he was open to going again. We would watch him as he got on the ice and fall..over and over and over again. But he’d get back up and every week as we continue to go, he can’t wait to get out on the ice and be with his “Hockey buddies”.

Our perspective is totally different than those parents around us. While they want their kids to skate fast and score a goal, we’re ecstatic that T is listening to instruction, managing the drills and willing to keep making efforts towards to getting the puck in the net.We are noticing our “goals” in life are changing but if you saw us watching T out there, so proud of how hard he was working and obviously having so much fun out on the ice, you would have thought he had scored in the final round of the Stanley Cup Finals. And that’s exactly how we want him to feel.

It’s Official

 

I was going to step away from this. Between managing my business and managing our house, I felt like I was running out of time on the spectrum of work/life balance and heading back into the world of “work” too much. I left corporate candyland to concentrate on finding that balance.

But the summer taught me a number of incredible lessons and I am dedicated to getting back on track in sharing information and connecting with other members in the Autism/ Mom/ Family/Entrepreneur communities. I have discovered that the social media world can be a great outlet; An absolutely fabulous place to connect with people you might never have met; and a meeting place of kindred spirits that just make your days so much brighter.

It was partially because of Twitter that encouraged me to make the statement that I am about to make..

I have signed up for a Half Marathon this fall. That’s right. The chick who couldn’t even get past 5 k this Spring is en route to the biggest physical challenge of her life. (and aside from a few nagging sore hips) is completely unafraid of something that used to terrify me. Failure.

In the past, I wouldn’t have tried this. Wouldn’t even thought there was a possibility..but I have to say, you actually start “training” for something like this and it becomes a lot easier and more approachable than you could ever imagine. You see there is this so called brand (Running Room) with a nutty (see: Brilliant) marketing strategy wherein they invite you to their store to help you get ready for a race, all the while talking up products they have available for purchase and keeping you motivated to stay on course. We started with a 5K clinic in March, proceeded to a 10K clinic in May and were confident enough with our efforts and training that we have made the decision to go for it and run this fall in our first half marathon!

I ran at first because I was angry. Dealing with a sudden diagnosis of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) completely threw our world upside down. Navigating the course of Special Needs support in Toronto had me beyond frustrated and ready to give up. While getting support for your child is essential, we quickly discovered that resources are so very limited, waiting lists are long and sometimes the workers within those areas are unsympathetic. My guess is that they see so many families in some of the worst moods on the planet and have simply become desensitized to protect themselves from the emotional draw this must have on their own mindset.

So I used running as my own outlet to pour out the heartache I didn’t want to burden my friends, husband, family with as I watched them all accept/adjust to this in different ways. But then something changed, I started talking about Autism. Online. Getting into conversations, reading blogs, following advocates on Twitter and being able to admit not being very strong to a random group of strangers. I started looking at running at personal goals I could achieve for myself that I could be proud of and started participating in fabulous communities/hashtags on Twitter like #momswhorun #momsrunning with a group of moms who are inspiring, motivating and simply (like me) taking it one day at a time.

Change is..good

Something’s going on these days..Our beautiful little guy who was displaying significant “behaviors” relating to ASD has been listening, conversing, even engaging us in his thought patterns. Something that up until now hadn’t been that common. I don’t want to get my hopes up but these days I need a bit of hope. Many friends of ours are announcing that they are close to separation or divorce, I have a couple of friends going through serious medical issues and I myself am trying to figure out a few issues physically that I hope I can get resolved soon.

I’m trying to be more positive. Conscious that when T sees us stressed or upset, it only lends to him getting upset. (Which is never good)..We are still adjusting to the changes this has taken on our life but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is so much about the balance within our family. When we are crazy busy or I’m away on work…he doesn’t do that well..but when we are all here and supporting him- he thrives…and that’s exactly what he did this weekend.

We went to the zoo. (Usually an incredibly stressful situation when I have gone along in the past with my 2 children) but something was different this time. We are trying not to be “NO sayers” and helicopter parents and our kids are starting to listen more. The key…we tried a Trust and Go plan with them yesterday at the zoo. I can see our little guy desperate to establish some independence and we are desperate not to have him run away (a habit that he has demonstrated many times in the past)..so we established rules as soon as we got to the zoo and talked about trust. We gave our T an opportunity to run ahead (which he is desperate to do all the time) and identified markers for him to stop and get a high five…

If you can believe, as much as we weren’t sure about this..it was the best thing for all of us. T got his independence and with a little deep breathing, we learned to chill out a bit and just let him have some fun…

Looking at the Bright Side


I didn’t want to write last week because I had hit an incredible downward spiral of sadness. I couldn’t even figure out WHAT exactly it was that was making me SO depressed…I just kept launching into teary, almost can’t breathe convulsions…an ache in my throat and in my heart so vivid that I started wondering if I was manifesting some crazy physical ailment from keeping everything inside.

You see, my intent with this blog was to help people stay positive in coming to terms with a child who has special needs. When I was searching the blogs initially, I felt like there were two kinds of bloggers…those who gave the raw straight up goods (which was causing complete anxiety  on my part) and those who kept focusing on how beautiful, bright shiny star and loved their children were…(I would kind of hope everyone feels that way but I think it was the stay SUPER positive coping mechanism)

I have seen a number of parents through various “resource” meetings we have gone to, either angry, confused, sad, or frustrated. I haven’t seen that super positive but then again we are all at the beginning of this.

The truth of the matter is, I have been through challenges in my life… and fought through them. But this experience of discovering my child has Autism, is something that caught me off guard, threw me for a loop, kicked my ass and no matter how much “fight” I have in me..obliterated all the positive for awhile. But I’m back…hiking up the hill on this journey focusing on What’s next vs. the Why..

So what caused me to totally lose it last week? Completely… confusing my husband as to why his usual bubbling wife kept falling to pieces in a heap on the floor?

I haven’t been talking to anyone about this. I didn’t know how to bring it up…

I WANTED to talk about it with my friends but didn’t want to become that friend who only ever talks about one particular piece of their life and trying to explain all the ups & downs we have gone through already…I felt ashamed to admit that I was having a hard time dealing with the term “Special Needs” (given I grew up in an environment where both my parents worked in a sector of government that supported “Mental Retardation”.)…and those Special needs kids were very different than my son. I felt like a number of my family members just didn’t want to accept it, and I don’t think I did either for awhile…

And then a beautiful friend sent me this out of the blue..

I just wanted to say that I hope you realize that you don’t have to be brave all the time. That you don’t have to put a smile onto all the shit that has happened. I know you have to deal with it and I know you will, but I hope you know that I am here for you and if you’ll let me, I will be that person that listens to all of it, all the tears and the rage and the anger. Anytime. Always. You know there is no judgment here, that is the thing I hold onto most sacredly in our friendship. I know you have to move forward, but those moments of letting it all out are part of saving your sanity and I want you to know that I totally understand. And I’m totally here. 

It was exactly what I needed to hear. Someone there to listen, no judgement, and accepting of all the stuff I needed to say. If you are overwhelmed and on this giant learning curve, remember to keep talking. It will get you past the tough and keep you focused on the positives all those great bloggers were writing about.

Putting on a brave face

I’ve always been a glass half full kind of girl.

My life’s focus has for the most part been on the optimistic side of things, the cheerleader, the positive vibe, bringing everyone up when they’re down, making people laugh.

In an effort to be straight up through these entries, I’m not doing so good at that these days.

Since we began this journey, I have been frustrated, deflated, heartbroken, depressed, to the core sad, and madly, deeply in love with my son..and felt like I couldn’t really say that to anyone aside from my husband. Instead I would run to vent through the frustrations. Use physical energy to help dull the emotional energy that keeps welling up inside me.

When we tell people, we are experiencing what I would consider one of three reactions.

1) THE That’s really sad, tilt your head “oohhh’s”, pity look (which I hate)

2) THE No big deal, you guys are great parents and he’s lucky to have you, he’s not any different than he was yesterday, sweep it under the carpet, NEXT…

3) THE No clue what to say stumble..NEXT…

I want to talk about it cause I am aware that talking about it helps clear the air, get things of your chest, make you feel better. But I don’t want to burden anyone with talking about Autism and what we are experiencing because it feels uncomfortable. I’m embarrassed for having these feelings…I feel weak because every time I talk about it, I get a huge frog in my throat and usually start to tear up.

I wanted to tackle this head on. Become the model parent who has it all figured out and has truly taken on the form of “ADVOCATE” for my son.

A bit of a lofty goal as anyone going through this will attest. As much information as you can absorb, as many resources you can tap into as many blogs as you can read…there are some hard, heart-wrenching emotions you need to go through before you get used to something like this. Its been 3 months and we are just starting to get there. Where we are passing through the grieving period and getting down to business, trying to figure out what our next steps need to be for T. For anyone who is reading this with a new diagnosis, cut yourself some slack….you will need time to process this before it starts becoming something you can accept. But from what I read, and hear…nobody is alone in feeling this way.

If you haven’t come across it, a good starting resource is the Autism Speaks 100 Day tool kit http://www.autismspeaks.ca/en/after-diagnosis

Its American but at least provides solid information on what you are dealing with in the 1st 100 days of diagnosis.

Hello Autism…

My son, T at 4 years old, was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) 2 months ago.

By the time the developmental assessment came up, it had been so long ago that we had seen problems, we almost didn’t take the opportunity when it came up. (It had been over a year since we were referred). The issues that had initially created the need for the assessment had seemed to subside (with a change in day care locations) and T wasn’t behaving the same way he had when he was there.

BUT there still were occasional questions of the way he behaved at times so we thought it was worthwhile to get a final answer once and for all and help us stop wondering the What If’s??

So we went. Well, T and I went for 2 full days. Two days of watching him get utterly exhausted as he met with everyone from a Psychologist, to a Speech Pathologist to a Play Therapist to an Occupational Therapist to a Neurologist..the list seemed endless.  I was able to sit in on a couple of the interviews but to be honest, I’m not sure if that helped or hindered. He kept looking at me with curious eyes wondering why I was making him do all of this. More than once, he asked if we could go home.

Internally, I wanted to leap from my chair, grab him and run for the exit, the momma bear in me uber-protective and desperate to give him a break. There were a number of times I knew he could have gotten an answer if only they asked it differently, but therein lies the rub…this was standard testing and in that world, T didn’t do so well.

At the end of the two days, my husband and I met with the team of experts who had gone through the tests with T. They each recounted their experiences, indicating he was a polite kid with a happy disposition and in certain areas, quite smart..case in point when they were doing social examples with dolls playing and asked T to tell them what the dolls were doing next, he just said “the dolls are sleeping, they want to go to sleep”. A true indicator to them he was DONE with the tests.

Even with all the summations, it still came as a complete shock when they told us he was diagnosed on the Spectrum. Autism hadn’t even entered our brains. ADHD? Sure..he had definitely shown signs of lacking focus and avoiding eye contact but we thought they might even say that we were over-reacting and he was perfectly normal.

We left the hospital in tears. In shock and not having a clue what to do next. I scoured the internet when I got home but to be honest, it was way too overwhelming and so much of it didn’t feel like it pertained to us. It wasn’t until a dear old friend reached out who has a son with Aspergers, and gave us a run down of what to expect at the beginning of dealing with this.

I must admit, the first month sucked. We both went through versions of the stages of grief- anger, pity pot, guilt, sadness, bargaining and are close…(almost there) to acceptance.

We are now in the throes of learning as much as we can about Autism…finding resources, reading books, meeting with the school, meeting with the daycare, adjusting slowly to what this means for our family. We are cognizant that this might have an impact on our marriage, we are aware that we need to be careful on how we manage both kids. Not excusing everything T does because of his autism and ensuring L (our 3 year old daughter) doesn’t lose out because all the focus is on him. As my husband said recently, everything has changed and nothing has changed…he’s still our loveable, sweet little guy who has a rather endearing obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine and has a ridiculous ability to memorize words…but life as we once knew it feels like its changed forever.