Why have a crying-kicking-screaming meltdown when your mother asks you if you would like something to drink? I had no answers. I feared that my lack of understanding may only compound his challenge.
At the age of 33, having spent all my life observing. Analysing human interaction and learning how to process and adapt to ensure the best outcome, meant that I found my own son’s meltdowns more perplexing as he got older. I could no longer put it down to him being a toddler, or not hearing or understanding.
We went for an Ed-Psych assessment, and all was good. His speech and language was on-par, and showed advanced levels in certain areas, his hearing thresholds had remained stable and his OT was sorted. How do you find answers when you cannot see any physical and developmental concerns other than bizarre responses to an ordinary request?
Afraid and confused, desperate to understand what I was missing. I reached out and asked for help.
We were referred to a Psychologist who specialised in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and through this process I learnt what the “Spectrum” in ASD referred to. The media seemed to have always portrayed the severity of the spectrum. Children whose challenges were obvious to the naked eye – disabling physical, sensory, cognitive and communication difficulties.
The penny dropped, as I went through my son’s assessment and subsequent feedback sessions. Suddenly our lived experience made sense.
For the first time I had a frame of reference that enabled me a better understanding of the why’s. Through this process my son and I both received our diagnosis – Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome.
The way we perceive and interact with the environment and people around us is part of our daily challenge and difficult to explain. It is multi-faceted; our cognition means that we are AWARE of everything we process ALL the time. Hence our need to often withdraw and spend days in our rooms, online or offline, not communicating or interacting in the real world.
I spent most of my childhood living in my head. My son used to do the same while at school, escape into his worlds of cars and acting, often telling me about “being called to do a drop to the airport” and having parked his car in the cul-de-sac near the school and then giving me a lift home in his car after school. This is how we survive when the space we find ourselves in creates anxiety; we create new and manageable spaces in our minds that enables us to function and get through our day.
You can get a glimpse of my son’s creativity and his love for all things cars by purchasing access to his short story, “The Christmas Boy” for R60. All funds generated will go towards his car restoration project – part of his homeschooling.