We arrived at the paediatrician’s office with a list of concerns and a child who does not like being examined in any way whatsoever.
The list included the following:
- He does not respond to his name.
- He does not want to touch food.
- He said ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ and then just stopped.
- He does not point to objects.
- He does not play with age-appropriate toys.
- He has chronic constipation.
- He flaps his hands.
- He loves spinning.
- He makes noises in a strange manner in a reaction to certain things.
- He does not copy.
The examination was quite an ordeal, but somehow, we got through it.
The paediatrician, as we had feared, informed us that our son might be on the autism spectrum. He suggested that we consult an occupational therapist as many disorders present the same way at 24 months. We waited three weeks for an appointment.
We were in hell. It did not matter that the paediatrician had told us our son was still very young, or that the condition might not be serious, we were in a state of absolute panic. I immediately started doing research (hello google), and my husband, who went into a kind of “receive and process information mode”, tried to navigate the endless stream of answers (and questions) I was uncovering. It all felt useless. With a disorder like autism, there are countless terms and abbreviations that mean nothing if you do not know what you are looking for. We were tired. We were frustrated. It was clear we still had a lot to learn.
We filled out a mountain of paperwork during the assessment at the occupational therapist’s office. The therapist noted that our son did not engage in play, had a tight grip when picking up objects, and did not react to his name or make eye contact. She also suggested that we consult a speech therapist about his delayed speech. The prognosis so far was for Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Off we went—again. At the speech therapist’s office, we completed another mountain of paperwork, only to find that even though we were looking for answers during these visits, only a neuro paediatrician could make a formal diagnosis.
At that stage, we had the following unconfirmed diagnoses:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
- Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (ADHD)
- Delayed Speech Development – Non Verbal (new term Pre-Verbal)
Next time I will touch on a topic everyone seemed certain of – sending our son to a school that could give him one-on-one attention.