As with any good story, you should start at the beginning. I feel like the beginning of our story is diagnosis. It’s commonly said that children these days are too easily diagnosed with autism. Another harsh reality has been that I have all three children on the spectrum, which has often led to conclusions that I have munchausen by proxy, and am looking for things to be wrong with the boys.
When Kallan, my eldest, was 2 years old we became concerned as he wasn’t saying any words. He hadn’t even said mum or dad. It took 2 GP visits before a 3rd GP referred us to a hearing clinic in Adelaide, a 4 hour drive from our home town.
We were convinced at the time that Kallan would come out of the hearing clinic needing grommets in his ears and that this would fix all of his problems. When his ears and hearing tests came back all clear it was extremely concerning. The clinic then organised for a developmental nurse to visit us at home to get to the bottom of the issue.
When it came time for the nurse to visit us, she was immediately concerned with our youngest child (at that time) Campbell. Campbell did something we had never paid much attention to, he walked on his toes. We never knew this was a red flag for autism. She asked us a series of questions about both boys Kallan was diagnosed with a speech and language disorder and referred on to a speech pathologist, Campbell was referred to a child youth health development doctor.
The child and youth doctor was also immediately concerned by Campbell and told us she believed he had autism. At the time it was a mixture of devastation, grief, and a tinge of relief. We had thought Campbell was just a difficult child and myself, at 22 being a young mum thought prehaps I hadn’t been doing things right. Especially with both children presenting with delays. Campbell was then referred to a paediatrician specialising in autism and a speech pathology team, again in Adelaide. We met with the paediatrician and discussed Campbell’s behaviours.
I will talk about the symptoms and concerns we saw in our children in my next post.
After we saw the paediatrician, we saw a team of speech pathologists who interacted with Campbell and video recorded this. At the end of this long day we had our diagnosis. Mild functioning autism. Which means that he was right in the middle of the spectrum.
We began therapies with Campbell and were still concerned with Kallan. We enrolled both the boys in our local day care centre for one day a week. We wanted them to be around children who could speak, and to also gain independence from me. Hoping that with out me around to guess what they needed they might begin to speak. Taking them there and leaving them, knowing that they had no way of really communicating their needs was one of the most stressful and sad days of my life.
The kids flourished at that child care centre and both began to speak more and more. Kallan’s speech was very garbled. For example he couldn’t say his name so called himself ‘Ahan’. He didn’t make any friends at day care and again we looked at diagnosing him, but a letter from a child care worker, insinuating that I was looking for symptoms due to campbell being diagnosed, held us back.
He began kindy where he made his first friend. A girl who had just moved to Australia from India and did not speak a word of English. They didn’t exactly play together but next to each other. By the end of Kallan’s time at kindy his teacher had also raised concerns that he was very different from his peers.
Once Kallan began school he was not coping socially and we saw the school psychologist. A lady that would become my saviour. When she met us and Kallan after 10 minutes she looked at us and said “I can not believe you have been told no so many times”. She diagnosed him with Aspergers, we then had to travel to adelaide again to see if the paediatrician would agree. We met and went through criteria and Kallan fit diagnosis. He did and was officially diagnosed as having Aspergers Syndrome. He was 5 years old at this time.
Patrick was our most easily diagnosed. He was just under two years old when he received his diagnosis of Severe Autism. Also known as classic autism. When Patrick started walking, we noticed immediately it was on his toes and one by one the symptoms of autism appeared. We knew the earlier we got his diagnosis the better for him. So again we saw our psychologist and paediatrician who both agreed that Patrick was on the autism spectrum, with out doubt.
So that is how we came to have our three children diagnosed. Many kilometres traveled, a lot of money spent, more heart ache and worry than I can describe here in this post.
If anything I hope this post can dispel the myth that autism is too easily diagnosed.
Thank you for reading,