This is a post that I wasn't really sure if I would write, or if I did, that I would publish. I tend to keep everything here lighthearted and upbeat and not talk too much about the serious stuff that's going on in my life. I started writing my blog so I could read back about our lives so it seems really stupid to leave this out as it's the biggest thing that's happening with us right now.
My four year old son, C, started preschool at the beginning of September. Around three weeks in, the preschool leader asked if she could have a quick word with me. She told me that she had a few concerns about his behaviour, touched on them briefly and recommended that I book an appointment with his health visitor or GP. I have to admit that I brushed it off a bit. I have a little bit of experience with autism (although she never actually mentioned that word, I guessed that it's what she was getting at) and C is so different from what I've seen in other autistic children, although I do know that the spectrum is broad. I sort of thought that three weeks was very quick for her to come to me with these concerns as preschool was a totally new experience for him. He had never been to any sort of playgroup, he'd just be at home with me, his daddy and sister so being with 24 other children every day was a massive change but then again, she had worked with lots of children.
A couple of weeks later, I had my settling in meeting with the preschool leader where she explained in more detail the things that were worrying her. C has been quite sensitive with noise. On one particular day, the children were playing with dry pasta in the water tray and making a lot of noise. C covered his head with his arms and said, "It's too noisy! I want to go home." As time has progressed, his key worker can see the signs when something like this is going to happen again and takes him out of the room just to get a couple of minutes away. They have also made him a countdown rocket to help him calm himself so he can see the numbers and count down from five to one.
At story time at the end of the day, they found that he wouldn't sit to listen to the story so they made him up his own little box with weighted toys and things that he can fidget with as he listens. Since they've introduced that, he'll sit quietly but she thinks that he can't focus unless he's keeping his hands busy.
When it comes to snack time, the children are told to wash their hands, grab a plate, pick their toast and fruit then pour their milk or water. One day, C spilled his milk as he was pouring it and got really upset. He didn't even calm down once they'd cleaned it up. They then realised that he wanted to go back to the beginning of the routine and wash his hands again, pick his toast again then pour his milk again. It was like he couldn't get past messing the routine up. Also, if he wants to play with a toy, let's say dinosaurs, but it's snack time, he needs to have a visual. His key worker has made a "Now and Later" sheet so they would put snack time in "now" then dinosaurs in "later". This way, he knows that he is still getting the dinosaurs whereas beforehand he would just take it as a no and get upset.
The biggest thing (something which I have actually noticed too) is not being able to express himself when he's upset or angry. He lashes out and hits. Interestingly, he understands other childrens' emotions and asks if they are okay when he sees that they are sad, but he can't express it when he feels it himself. We've since put in an application for CIDS Team - who are specialist workers and psychologists - to observe him in class so we are waiting to hear back from them.
I have to be honest and say that I felt a little bit like my heart had been ripped out as she was speaking to me and I did have a cry on the way home. I know that if we do get a diagnosis that it's not going to change who he is. He will always be the same C that he's always been. We have our behavioural appointment with the GP tomorrow morning and my stomach is in knots. One step closer to finding out, eh? Wish us luck!