Today is World Autism Day. I don’t usually write about autism but I thought I’d share our story. Jono, my son, has Asperger’s Syndrome which is a milder autism spectrum disorder. Of course autism is one of the ‘hidden disabilities’ so people may not be aware.
Jono wasn’t diagnosed until he was 13 years old even though there were various signs – late to walk and talk, strict routines, not great at social interaction, motor skills and sensory issues, fixated on certain topics, over sensitive to noise, smells and situations and more.
We had thought for years that something wasn’t quite right but were fobbed off. The primary school told us Jono was just immature, the health care workers said because Jono was our first child we were overreacting. Others said it was because Lucy was a girl and therefore quicker at picking up things and that we shouldn’t compare.
Jono started secondary school – where there was a fantastic head teacher who knew straight away something was amiss. We knew for sure ourselves then because the new school threw him completely. Assessments were done and Asperger’s syndrome was diagnosed. Finally he got the supports he needed in school – although everything was a battle.
In those days there wasn’t really a whole lot of support for people with mild autism. It was either a main stream school or a school for children with special needs. To be honest none of them were suitable for Jono. Things seem to be changing now with a lot of schools having dedicated units for those with autism. Some of the shops have ‘quiet’ hours to make thing easier for shopping.
As I get older I’m convinced I’m somewhere on the spectrum myself and my dad certainly was – although not diagnosed. Some people might get a shock when they receive a diagnosis of Asperger’s but to be honest it doesn’t change who the person is. Jono is highly intelligent, has a fantastic memory, is amazing at planning trips, has a brilliant sense of humour and so much more.
Happy World Autism Day – I think I’ll have cake to celebrate.