Back in March, I blogged about Sam’s Autism diagnosis. Since then, we’ve seen almost all of the professionals involved in his care. I have told them all, and we have since received Sam’s written diagnosis too. I think I am still processing it all. I have accepted the diagnosis, and I agree with it, but it’s not sunk in yet.
Since March, Sam has continued to come on in leaps and bounds. He will now take my hand and lead me to whatever he wants. This means there are less meltdowns caused by frustration. Sam is also now sleeping in a toddler bed – we took the sides off his cot as he was waking earlier each day, thanks to the cot sides. He fell out a couple of times, but now he is sleeping for between 10-13 hours a night, every night. Sam is also a lot more tolerant towards Sydney. He still has the odd moment, but I expect all 2 year olds would react in a similar way, if they were living with Syd’s tantrums!
Sydney has been amazing too. She is so patient and kind to her brother, it brings me to tears at least once a day! If Sam is a bit upset, she will find one of his favourite things, and give it to him – almost like she knows it’ll diffuse the tension. If I give her 2 biscuits, she will automatically give one of them to her brother. Even if I don’t ask her to. She adores him. Sydney insists on coming into Sam’s bedroom with me every evening, while I settle him, and say night night. She always waves goodnight to him as well. If Syd wants to do something, she will tell Sam about it too – “Sam… Slide” is a common phrase at the moment, as she loves to push him down the slide!
We still have our bad days, don’t get me wrong. We still have meltdowns, pinching, biting, kicking, but we also have proper – pucker up kisses, real hugs, loads of eye contact, and the best smile I have ever seen!
I recently read The Spark – a book written by Kristine Bennett – The mother of Jacob Bennett. He’s a boy with Autism, who is now on course to win a Nobel prize! He was diagnosed at an age similar to Sam, and given future expectations quite similar to those Sam received. In the book, she tells you that rather than focusing on her son’s areas of concern, she began focusing on the things he could do. The things he enjoyed doing and the things he wanted to do. I have started to do the same.
I have spent hours (and I mean hours) talking about shapes with Sam. It has given me a way in. Sam’s opened the door a little, and is now listening to me through the gap. He still isn’t speaking much, but if I ask him questions about things he is interested in, Sam will answer them by pointing. If I ask him to point out a specific shape, he will do. If I ask him to point to a specific character from one of his books, he can do it with a lot of them. This proves to me that Sam is in there! I have a way in now, and I am hopeful that by spending as much time as possible exploring things he loves, our bond will grow stronger, and he will open the door a little more to let me into his world.
We are of course still doing what the professionals are encouraging, but we are also letting Sam take the lead. If he wants to sit in the garden and stare at the trees swaying in the breeze for 2 hours, I’ll let him. I’ll sit down next to him as much as possible, and talk about what is happening. Sam sees things differently to most of us, but by taking the time to stand back and see things the way Sam does, I feel I can understand him more.
One example of this is his obsession with one of our vases. It’s a large cylinder one on the landing. He would sit and stare at it for ages, right up close. It wasn’t until I sat down next to him to do the same that I noticed all the tiny squares etched onto it. Like pixels when you sit too close to the TV. Sam wasn’t really admiring the vase, he was looking at the shapes. Shapes are his thing!
So… what happens next? Who knows. For now, we keep going as we are. He continues at nursery and speech therapy. I need to start viewing schools ASAP so I can be as informed as possible when it comes to choosing the right place for him. In the meantime, he’s 3 next month! How on earth did that happen?