This is my son, his name is Damian and he is 10 years old.
Since he was 3 years old, I had a nagging feeling that he could be an ASD child.
He thrived on routine
He would become distressed if we didn't follow this routine
He would obsessively line up his toys
He found social activites hard work
But due to his age and not wanting to put a label on my son, I didn't push for an assessment referral. I voiced my concerns to his teachers but as it wasn't affecting him day to day, I left it in their hands as to whether they wanted to push for a referral through the SENCO.
But as he got older, it was becoming a problem!!
He has sensory issues with food textures, noise and touch. He will discount food on how it feels in his mouth and not how it tastes, if he doesn't like the texture, he will gag. So he tends to eat the same food over and over again. With regards to noise, if it is a repetitive, non-background noise, it will distract and irritate him (think along the lines of someone clearing their throat or a dog barking). He has little awareness of personal space and without knowing will stand right in front of you while talking, but if he isn't expecting it or is unwilling to accept it, he doesn't like to be touched, sometimes even rebuffing cuddles from loved ones. Though if he wants to give a cuddle he will.
He prefers his own company to that of children his own age and will often isolate himself from others, if he wishes to be sociable, it's on his terms and he will initiate it and terminate it when he feels it's finished regardless of if the other person wants to ask more questions or play another game. He becomes very agitated if another person encroaches on his alone time or refuses to play his games his way.
He doesn't understand social cues: how to join in with a group of people and how to have a reciprocal conversation and this impedes greatly on his ability to make and sustain friendships.
He also has great difficulty on guessing how people will react or what they are thinking or what the outcome of a given situation will be, he doesn't have that flexibility of thinking. He finds it hard to understand why people might be sad or hurt by something he has done or something he has said, but when I talk to him about it and explain it to him, he can become quite upset at the thought that he has upset another person.
He talks in a somewhat adult manner, but his voice doesn't lilt even when talking about something that he loves, his facial expressions rarely change either. He prefers to talk to adults than children, he can become quite irritated when talking to younger children and having to explain things. When talking to adults, he doesn't grasp the concept that they might not understand or have knowledge of the subject and will carry on the conversation whether they are listening or not.
He also needs extra help with his personal care along with cooking food, this is one of my main concerns as he gets older and approaches adulthood.
Approximately a year ago, I went to my GP with 2 sides of an A4 piece of paper full of my concerns about Damian and we talked about it, along with my worries and the GP referred him immediately, in this time we have met with the Lead Paediatrician in his case and he has had a visit from the Educational Psychologist. The report from this assessment was a huge eye opener, reading the same thoughts and worries I had myself in writing that his teacher and the Psychologist also had. For all these years, I've doubted myself and many times I've talked myself into believing I've been exaggerating matters.
After talking to his teacher at Parents Evening this week, her thoughts are on an ASD diagnosis, from all my research and experience with Damian, I think he will have a diagnosis. but until it comes from a professional, we can only do what we can to make Damian more comfortable in his abilities and implement structure and routine.
I felt the time was right to finally talk about this as before, I just couldn't find the correct words to explain what was going on. Regardless of whether we get a diagnosis or not, I would never change my son for the world, he is and always will be my baby boy, my first-born, my little buddy and my pride and joy and I love him with all my heart.