Patrick was my only planned pregnancy and of course my most complicated. He was born 11 weeks early, at the Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide. He was born in June and was unable to come home until November, due to breathing difficulties.
Patrick came home on oxygen still, which was quite a challenge. Already having two older boys with special needs and a new baby with breathing difficulties, whilst my husband worked away in Western Australia for two weeks at a time.
Patrick was a very happy baby and we were pleased with his progress. He was very interactive with us. He could babble Mum-mum-mum and Dad-dad-dad, he waved goodbye and could clap hands when asked.
I can’t tell you the exact day, or age he was, I’d say he was roughly around 14 -15 months old. I went in to wake Patrick up for the morning and started talking to him. I noticed he either didn’t seem to hear, or wasn’t interested. From that day onward he never clapped hands, or waved or babbled our names again.
It should be known that nothing of particular interest happened around this time, and that I do not believe that vaccines caused my children’s autism in the slightest.
Patrick was slow to start walking, but when he did, I immediately noticed it was on his toes. He had also began stiffening his body in a very strange way whenever he became excited about something. I asked my husband Jeff to watch Patrick walk and he was also immediately concerned.
Patrick was already enrolled in speech therapy due to having feeding issues. He could only tolerate fully puréed food, any lumps and he would gag and vomit. So we decided to continue with speech therapy and see how he progressed.
At 2 years old we had Patrick formally diagnosed. Again by a psychologist and Paediatrician. He was on the autism spectrum, on the severe end. He was also diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay.
He was enrolled in Occupational Therapy and play therapy, on top of his speech Therapy.
Patrick had no obsessions, he had no motivation to do things we wanted him to. The only thing he wanted to do was stim.
Stimming is a behaviour used by people on the autsim spectrum to help them self regulate. It could be spinning, rocking, flapping, waving objects in front of their face, etc.
Patrick could sit for hours outside in the sand and let grains of sand drop in front of his face. He would become extremely distressed when we would try to stop him during this activity.
When he was hurt, he did not seek out comfort from us. He did not seek out to engage with his older brothers. He did not watch television or movies. He did not play with any toys.
He does love to make a mess and he loves to eat! Most of all he loves the water! Anything involoving water or sand play and Patrick’s involved.
Shortly after Patrick’s diagnosis, my family moved from small town in rural South Australia, to a city in Western Australia. My husband had a new job, still flying in and out but from Monday to Friday. He would be away week days and weekends he would be home.
It was around this time Patrick became increasingly hard to look after. He began to bang his head. He can do this so severely, that for awhile, he had a constant red welt on his forehead, and once split his head open.
He is completely obsessed with being outside. So much so that we keep our house deadlocked and our windows all shut. He has pushed out fly screens in attempt at escape before.
Patrick loves food. Unfortunately mostly the un-healthy kind. We have to have locks on our fridges and pantry, or he would literally non-stop eat us out of house and home.
Now at 6 years old Patrick’s only from of communication is hand over hand leading. So he will take someone’s hand and lead them to what he needs, placing your hand on the object. He started doing this around 4 years 6months old. We trialled using some basic sign language, or picture cards, but have had no success with either.
At this stage he shows no signs of speaking anytime soon, but we are hopeful one day he might. Even if it’s just simple words, like Mum!
He can give us a high-5 on request which he began doing last year, and most recently in the last two weeks, has started kissing us. This is the best feeling as it shows he has an understating of who we are and that he loves us. I get the most kisses when we are doing an activity he loves. Like swimming, going on the swings or water play. I think it’s his way of saying thank you!
Patrick is extremly lucky to have a place in an amazing ed support centre based close to our home. His teachers there do such a fantastic job with the children and Patrick has made huge progress since starting school.
Life with Patrick can be hard, he can not tell us if he is sick, or scared or in pain. As he has gotten better at hand on hand communication some of his head banging has stopped which has been a huge relief. I worry all the time that he’s uncomfortable or unhappy.
Its also rewarding imagine waiting 6 years for your child to give you a kiss! I was on a high that day. Hes’s been making up for those 6 years these past few weeks too. I think I’m averaging around 10 smooches a day now.
Patrick has the silliest sense of humour and the best part of my day is seeing his huge grin, or hearing his contagious laugh,