Our son was diagnosed with Mild Autism in the Fall of 2015. Well, his psychiatrist diagnosed him in spring of the same year, but he did not have an official diagnosis until our son had an ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) completed. It basically means he was observed by 2 therapists (occupational and speech) for about 2 hours, while they engaged him in different types of play. He had no idea he was being “observed” and we were right there in the room with him. His psychiatrist read the results of their report and he was then given his official diagnosis.
Autism is such a broad disorder. It’s actually called Autism Spectrum Disorder. There are specific symptoms listed on the Autism Spectrum, and depending on your child’s symptoms depends on how his autism is labeled. At least that is my view of how the medical and psychiatric community sees it.
As far as I know, there is no cure for autism. Oh I’ve read different articles stating, “My son has been cured of autism, by following A, B, C, and so on”. This usually follows some sort of specific diet. And hats off to you if that was happened to your child. In fact, Hallelujah!! And I mean that. Because there are so many parents out there who have tried A, B, and C and still are just as lost as when they started out.
I’ve written about our son’s diagnosis and how we knew there was just something “not right” about his behavior.
As an infant, he slept terribly. And I mean terribly!! He is our 3rd and last child, so we were older. Both my husband and I were in our mid-thirties. I just assumed I was old and out of shape and not used to this baby stuff anymore. But he never, ever slept through the night. He always had to go to sleep with one of us holding him, or by being driven around town, late at night. Then we would quietly bring him in and would not dare take him out of his car seat.
Then there was the whole eating thing. He actually ate pretty well as an infant and toddler. Then around the age of 1 ½ – 2 years old he began this new ritual every single time we sat down to eat.
He’d throw his food on the floor. I mean, every single time we ate a meal. It got real old, real fast.
Thus began his food aversion which is still alive and well today.
Then came the meltdowns. I’m not talking about temper tantrums. I’m talking on the floor, banging his body all over, hitting himself and others, throwing things, slamming doors, kicking the dog meltdowns that would last on average 30 minutes, sometimes more, sometimes less. I think people thought I was exaggerating when I would tell them about these infamous meltdowns. Once they saw one they no longer believed I was exaggerating.
There were sensory issues, which I didn’t realize were sensory issues at the time, major anxiety (I thought) for a 3 year old, and tons and tons of frustrating and overwhelming moments.
Needless to say, we had a problem on our hands, and the worst part of it was, we had no idea how to help him.
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We tried time outs, spankings, losing privileges, losing toys, going to bed early, you name it, we tried it. Nothing seemed to work. In fact it just seemed to make disciplining him worse.
It was after our daughter had been diagnosed with ADHD that we took him to the same psychiatrist that helped her.
Our son’s current diagnoses include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
He is on 4 different medications. I know that may seem like a lot to some of you, but they all really help him by working together. He’s on 2 for ADHD, 1 for anxiety, and 1 to help him sleep.
He’s been to a psychiatrist, a counselor, and an occupational therapist(s). Right now we’re looking into ABA therapy (Applied Behavior Analysis) to work with our son on his explosive meltdowns and his extremely rigid eating habits.
That is a basic overview of Autism in our home. Over the following few weeks I’m going to dig deeper into 5 different characteristics of autism that can be found in our son.
- Emotional Reactivity
- Sensory Issues
- Sleep Problems
- Oral Sensory Issues
I really hope that through this series you can learn something new that may help your family, understand how a friend or family member is affected by autism, or find encouragement that you’re not alone.
Will you do something for me? Let me know if there are any specific questions you have regarding the 5 characteristics I listed above. If I can help in any way at all, I’d love to. You can leave a comment on my Facebook page or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. All your information will remain anonymous if you so desire.
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