Always Unique, Totally Intelligent, Sometimes Mysterious. AUTISM. No beating around the bush, that is just one of the diagnoses that Mr7 has, or a label he carries. Actually, given that it’s him he might sometimes carry it, other times he’ll rip it off to explore it and most often he’ll just eat it. Autism, Global Development Delay, Intellectual Impairment, Sensory Processing Disorder, PICA… or in the disability world it’s more like ASD, GDD, II, SPD, PICA and add in NV and NTT or Non Verbal and Not Toilet Trained.
At the end of the day, it’s all guesswork with a level of frustration and huge dose of humour. We can only guess at what he can and can’t understand but we know that he responds to love, music, laughter and food. Oh, boy, does he respond to food! My second baby but my biggest at a very healthy 9lb 11oz which was quite a shock, the doctor was suggesting I’d be lucky to get an 8 pounder and that was at the appointment where we set the induction date. I try to keep that in mind – he doesn’t do what is expected and quite often manages a rather interesting surprise. When it comes to birthweight or well timed displays of cooperation in public that’s great. When it comes to eating something I’d really rather he didn’t (and let’s not gross you out by going into that further!) or redecorating his room with the contents of his nappy… I’d far rather pass, thanks!
As difficult and frustrating as life can be, it is also a huge adventure where things can be looked at in so many ways and the world is just waiting to be explored one sense at a time… although it’s usually taste and sound. Taste is obvious but sound… well, he can’t verbalise words but he can do the “Ahhhh” and “Eeeee” noises and he also likes to bang his hands against everything to see what sound it makes. And when I say everything I do mean everything – walls, doors, his baby brother, the TV, the ground, me… the list goes on. He’s also really, really curious at what is on the other side of the door, any door, and will open them and wander through to explore. This means that we keep all doors locked when he’s home to keep him safe and to keep him out of mischief. I still haven’t quite gotten over the day when Master2 was a newborn and I suddenly realised that Master7 was nowhere to be seen or heard… and we were the only ones home at the time. Racing around the neighbourhood with a newborn clutched against me, phone in hand, frantically screaming his name… I swear I got at least 30 new grey hairs from that five minutes of pure terror.
Still, it’s not all hard work. He is so loving and affectionate, cuddling up and giving little smooches and batting his very long and thick eyelashes over those big brown eyes… he’s learned that’s really quite effective on most people. He has also learned to play with his siblings, even if it’s just taking turns on the slide or jumping on the trampoline with them. He has relationships with people other than family and they appreciate him for the loving, unique and valuable person that he is and that’s something that I’m so grateful for – they look at him and see a small boy, not a collection of diagnoses.
A lifelong devotee of The Wiggles, someone who enjoys music and plays his own drum track wherever he goes, an apple connoisseur, a giggler with a very ticklish spot under one arm, someone who knows how to use his charms to the fullest, a paper shredder far superior to any cross cut shredder you can buy, mischief and joy and noise… all in the shape of a seven year old boy. He might not be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.