My 1st born came into this world on a Saturday afternoon in September.
He was a difficult baby from the start. He did nothing but cry, we barely got a winks sleep. He seemed constantly hungry or in pain. After 2 long and sleep deprived months he was diagnosed with silent reflux. He settled a lot once we got the right medications for him, but the sleepless nights continued.
Kallan would cry for hours, wether we held him, rocked him, pushed him in the pram, or drove around in the car. When placed to sleep in his cot he would sometimes bang his head against it. He would do this so violently he sometimes ended up with bruising and blood noses. We ended up installing padded sides to his cot to stop him from being able to hurt himself any further, as this was distressing for all of us.
Kallan hit all of his physical milestones perfectly. He was walking at 10 months. He woke up on his first birthday and was off and running!
By two years of age we became concerned that kallan was not speaking. He still hadn’t even said mum for dad. He never babbled much as a baby, in fact he was mostly quite silent and happy to be on his own.
He was diagnosed with a severe speech and language disorder, and enrolled in speech therapy and began attending day care. He slowly began to speak. It was often hard to understand but we could mostly work out what he was saying.
It was also around this time Thomas the tank engine entered our lives. This little blue engine was beyond an obsession. Thomas was everything and we used him to teach Kallan so much. He became obsessed with collecting all of the toys. So we used these toys to toilet train him, we started off with one day accident free equaling a new toy and slowly extending it. If he had an accident he lost a toy until another accident free day. We purchased Thomas jocks, as Kallan did not want to wee on his beloved trains.
I used the toys to play games with Kallan. He only ever wanted to re-enact scenes from his DVD’s, but doing this meant we could play together, something he had never shown much interest in. He used to just line the trains up in a big long line with their faces all looking toward him, then lay next to them and smile. This had always concerned me.
All up we would have spent well over a thousand dollars on Thomas, toys, tracks clothing, DVDs. We even made a trip to Adelaide to watch a Thomas movie in the cinema. Kallan could tell you every character, their colour, train number, how many wheels they had, all from memory. Then at 5 years old he gained a new interest and Thomas was forgotten. He actually told me to throw his toys in the bin. It was much harder for me to let go of Thomas than it was for Kallan.
By 5 and a half his school and myself were concerned that although extremely smart, Kallan was not coping as well as the other children with school. It was hard to get him to focus on anything but his specific interests, which at this time was volcanoes. He would become extremely emotional if he had not finished his work, or had to move on to a new task. He still wasn’t making any real friendships. He would spend his play time alone in the sandpit building volcanoes.
The school organised a psychologist to visit us and observe Kallan in his classroom, during lunch time and then speak to us about his life at home and history.
She was shocked that he had displayed so many symptoms of autism and yet two other times we had, had an assessment done on Kallan we were told the only thing wrong was his speech. Once she had made her diagnosis, we then got a second diagnosis by a paediatrician who also agreed that Kallan fit autism criteria.
The diagnosis meant he could now get a lot more help at school. Although he now had extra help in the class room and extra support through autism funding, Kallan was still struggling to complete his school work and would sometimes act disruptively during class. We took him to Adelaide to see a childhood psychiatrist. At 6 years old Kallan was also diagnosed with ADHD. We researched and trialed a small dose of medication we thought would be suitable, and Kallan’s school work suddenly changed. He went from writing one line during a lesson, to writing pages. He could finally focus and get all the knowledge he had stuck inside his head on to paper.
Kallan is now 10 years old. He still takes his medication to go to school, we’ve trialled off of it, but he most certainly needs it to stay focused and on task. Kallan is a member of his schools green team. He helps look after the school grounds by collecting litter, and helping to look after the schools plants in the greenhouse. He volunteers to do this in his own lunch time.
His obsessions have varied from Thomas the tank, to minecraft, to the universe and currently he is interested in history and war.
He amazes me with the knowledge he retains in his head.
He has a small group of friends, who share similar interests to him, but are not on the spectrum.
Most people who meet my amazing first born today can barely notice any differences in Kallan and are surprised when they find out he is on the spectrum. Until he starts prattling on like a professor!
It makes my heart burst with pride to see how far Kallan has come, and to know the work he has put in to get here.
Much love for my 1st born,