It’s been just over two years since I updated this blog. I have drafts dating back to the end of 2014, so this is a tricky post to write and get right.
We always suspected the children were special. We toyed with ideas and read books like “Raising Spirited Children” and sought out parenting help as parenting seemed to be a struggle. We had suspicions stretching back over eight years that they might have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (although we didn’t know to call it that) but we shied away from it.
We knew that autism wasn’t always like it’s portrayed in the media – characters like Sheldon Cooper on Big Bang Theory are exceptions. For all our parental pride, our children aren’t world changing geniuses. Neither can they do Rain Man style mental gymnastics.
Despite this our children are bright and articulate so they don’t look like traditional autistic children either. (It doesn’t help that The Wife’s mother worked in a special school for decades and so she had quite an extreme view of what autism meant.) But they are verbal, affectionate and manage eye contact.
And, on top of all that, we didn’t want to be seen to be middle class parents seeking a syndrome to explain their badly behaved children.
Then, over two years ago I read a Quora answer about what is was like to raise an Asperger’s child and found I was agreeing with pretty much everything said there. The Wife, having been brought up with the extreme view of autism, was very resistant at first, but soon accepted that Aspergers/autism could be an explanation for the problems we were all experiencing.
Finally, I reached a point where I realised that actually getting a diagnosis would mean that we could be better parents and consequently the children would be happier.
Happy children is the defining factor in my success as a parent.
I started to research and found a lot of behaviours that fit with a diagnosis of ASD that I had no idea were part of the disorder. (I’ve broken this out to a separate post as it gets rather long!)
For the last two years we have struggled through the system. Youngest has an Individual Education Plan (IEP), a diagnosis of ASD that would be Aspergers if they hadn’t taken it out of the book, a report from the Education Psychologist and help from various voluntary organisations. Middlest has been to a similar alphabet soup of organisations, CAMHS and PMH from the NHS and other voluntary organisations. He too is under the ALN (Additional Learning Needs) stream at school. Eldest is not formally being investigated at the moment. In an ideal world with lots of resources he could maybe get an Aspergers diagnosis, but really he is just extremely geeky!
Our current project with the Youngest and the Middlest is to take all the information and turn it into an action plan for the schools to make the children’s experience better. This whole process is unbelievably long. Our children are scoring very highly on all the academic markers and none of their behaviours are directly harming, so they are a low priority for a very stressed and under resourced system. Both the NHS and education system, through no fault of their own, don’t really have enough money to cope
So, that’s where we are at now.