AutismRyan saw the Paediatric Team for the first time on Wednesday 12 November 2008, two days after his 7th birthday. The paediatrician we saw was the first person to take me seriously and agreed that we had a right to be concerned about Ryan’s development and mental health to date.
That day was the first time that the term Autism was used officially. The paediatrician made an urgent referral to the Educational Psychologist team, gave me a bunch of questionnaires to complete and some that the school needed to do and off we toddled with a further appointment for 6 months time.
I make this episode sound light, but it really wasn't. We had spent over an hour with the Paediatrician who had taken an in-depth history of our lives thus far (fortunately I had kept diaries which really helped answering the myriad of questions). The reason I make this sound light hearted was simply because of the relief we felt that we were finally being taken seriously. Remember I had first raised my concerns when Ryan was only a year old. To fight for something you so strongly believe in for 6 solid years zaps so much energy you have to sound light hearted otherwise you would simply implode.
|Equal is different to justice.|
After the appointment and over the next 6 weeks up to the end of the year, Ryan did not complete a full week in school. He tried to climb the school gates that needed 3 staff members to eventually get him down. He ransacked the reception classroom twice. Locked himself into the school toilet, I was called and had to unpick the lock to free him, but he bolted and attempted to scale the school wall this time taking 2 members of staff and myself to get him down.
Ryan said his only friend in the world is his imaginary friend Cheese. Cheese lived with us for several years in fact. On 10th December 2008, the School then lost Ryan. He was eventually found by a year 5 pupil hiding in a small cupboard under the stage area in the school hall. He proceeded to fight with another pupil and was excluded once again. Would someone care to count how many exclusions his has had so far please and let me know. Thanks.
To top the year off Ryan bolted from the house on Boxing Day 2008, threatening to kill himself and headed straight for the main road. From that day forward all doors and windows had to be kept locked and keys hidden. Home became a prison on lock-down. No-one visited and we couldn't take Ryan out. It simply wasn't worth the meltdowns.
We were not living, we were simply existing. Owen in all this was the possibly the most affected. The teachers used to call him out of class in school to 'deal with his brother'. We could not go out as a family. His own activities were often disrupted. He couldn't have friends over to play. Life is incredibly unfair to the siblings of Autistic children. They have to stand on the sidelines, often in the shadows while their brother or sister 'gets all the attention' and a totally different set of rules. Trying to explain the complexities of Social Justice to Owen at 9 years old was as frustratingly hard as trying to deal with Ryan's meltdowns.
The blog post Everybody is Different talks about Owen's point of view.