Looking back over the last twelve years I can reflect on how things have changed both in my attitude towards Autism and in my son's way of dealing with it.
Back in the year 2000 when my son and daugter were born I knew nothing about the condition. In fact I remained blissfully unaware of it for the next four years until my son started school. At first I thought his diffivulties settling in were due to him being an August baby. If I'd been told it was possible I would have held them back for a year as they missed a whole year at home which their older brother had been able to spend with me because he was old in his year, In retrospect it wouldn't have made a great deal of difference but it would have given my autistic son a year more of being happy in his own skin.
School showed him he was different, teachers described a child I didn't recognise, one who wouldn't sit with the other children, didn't like the playground because it was too noisy and got angry to the point of running away from school.
At the age of five it's difficult for a child to explain how he feels and sadly for us the school didn't tell us the truth .After meetings with educational pschycologists, home school books and constantly being cornered by teachers every night at school when I went to pick up the children from school . the stress of school started to spill over into home life and when I finally found my little boy in the kitchen pinching his arms and hitting his head I decided no more.......
Home education didn't cure everything but it did give us space and time to understand one another and I'm still learning. I clearly remember my son regressing to a 'baby voice'. It drove me mad at the time but I recognize now he was stressed and. several years on he doesn't do it .In fact I'd forgotten about the episode until someone reminded me on a forum the other day.
There was night after night of 'wanting to be dead'. It was heart breaking and I didn't know what I could do to help. We both know now not to talk but to sit quietly together whilst I give my son an Indian head massage as it relaxes him and seems to 'unlock his brain' so that he can think straight. Thank fully thoses episodes are behind us, at least for now!
Then there was my need to control him versus his opposition to anything I requested. It caused a lot of arguments and I felt like a terrible mother. Having accepted him for whom he is and realising he doesn't need to do things just because society expects it has made a huge difference to our relationship and there are far less arguments.
With age comes maturity too. We have been through periods when my son has been unable to leave the house and has refused to let me leave. Times when he has lain down on the floor in the supermarket overwhelmed by the sound and light and unable to move. Times when he has screamed and sworn at me in the carpark because I diverted slightly from our original plan and he couldn't cope. I won't say it has always been easy but I do know that the bumpy road of Autism has involved climbing mountains and running down valleys.. Lifes challenges have subtley changed and what once posed a problem pales into insignificance or is absorbed into 'normal' family life as you adapt.
The message I'm trying to get across to those having a hard time of it at the moment is that things change and it won't be like this for ever. It's a bit like a worried parent of a toddler being reassured that 'he won't be doing it at 18', although with an autistic child there are no such time scales.Children mature at different rates and children with Aspergers tend to be a few years behind their peers with many living skills.
At the moment the main challenges in our house are food, insomnia and reluctance to go out. The first is a sensory problem, the second two more to do with anxiety I think. We are however riding the waves. Our son seems happy, there is no anger or sadness and we are managing to work round it so that family is content.