main banner

Autism-Spectrum-Disorder-Conalls-Story

Autism Spectrum Disorder, Conall’s Story

“Conall’s pushed one of the twins in the river!”
This was the sentence that began our journey into the world of autism. He was four, had just started school and had always been a handful and prone to tantrums and aggression. To give a complete history, he was born full term, not a pleasant birth, vacuum, episiotomy, the complete spa treatment. He scored 10/10 on his Apgar score but cried nonstop in the hospital and took two weeks to latch on to feed. He was my first child and I assumed I was spoiling him;  I was told I held him too much… how does anyone have the emotional strength to separate themselves from their beautiful, sweet-smelling (most of the time) baby?

Conall was slow to talk, over 3 and his first word was "
light", followed by “there you are”. He went through phases of almost obsession with certain toys, settling on small cars for years and would spend hours lying on the floor lining them up in an order that made sense only to him. Then he discovered the Titanic and a further 2 years were devoted to learning every available fact about the boat which led him on to study the Lusitania, Britannic, Olympic etc….this was all age 4 and 5. He is currently obsessed with astronomy and I think this could last awhile as there is so much to learn and question. I have to admit, I am learning with him, my knowledge of space was purely sci-fi... there is a cold planet called Hoth, right?

When he found his feet, he had a tendency to wander which brings us back to that river. I had just returned from a scan on my third baby and Conall had been really well behaved in the hospital with me so I allowed him out with his friends, the twins from next door. He had persuaded them to walk up to the river which is a about ten houses away from our house. He told one of them to throw some rubbish in the river and when he refused Conall said he’d push him in if he didn’t. He refused again and my son pushed him in. Thankfully the water was low that day but the boy had a gash on his head where he hit a rock. I was shocked to my core,  I knew he could be stubborn and aggressive and was prone to major meltdowns but to act maliciously (and litter!) was unconscionable to me. I called next door to apologise sobbed for hours; I met with his teacher the next day. She probably thought I was a hormonal mess but agreed that something wasn’t right. My neighbour called and we both had a cry. She was amazingly kind and sympathetic and as a mother of 5 confirmed what the teacher had said.


I made an appointment with our GP and listed all my concerns. I had always harboured a feeling that he had ADHD but the doctor was the first to suggest Asperger’s and refer us on. Strangely the first person I thought of with Asperger’s was a
contestant on America’s Next Top Model years previously who seemed robotic and spoke in a monotone. When I got home I googled the bejaysus out of that word and had so many lightbulb moments. I decided to go see a child psychiatrist privately to get an official diagnosis. It was expensive and ultimately fruitless as he placed blame on myself and my husband, intimated spoiling and suggested a parenting course. While waiting on the public services to link us in, I found another private psychiatrist, this time highly recommended. He fired a tonne of questions at me as Conall sat drawing. They required only simple yes or no answers. I answered yes to every question except “Does he spin?” At which point Conall looked up and quite calmly said “no I don’t” (he does). The diagnosis was no surprise… Asperger’s, ADHD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  The professor removed his academic hat for a few minutes to explain how some of the world’s most successful people have Asperger’s and gave the example of De Valera.

It’s amazing how many people ask “are you sure you want to label your child?” My response is, “it isn’t a label, it’s a diagnosis“. I was relieved to have a label; On a selfish note it meant I wasn’t a crappy mother who couldn’t discipline her own child and my son was not a brat but a kid full of anger and anxiety due to the fact that his brain wasn’t functioning in the same manner as a neurotypical child. He attends mainstream school and is progressing well. We have issues with emotional regulation and recently when he wasn’t invited to a friend’s party, I arrived to collect him from school and he was lying in the grass howling while other kids looked on shocked (he is now 8). Moments like this scare me and all I can do is hold him while inwardly I panic for his future but we’ll deal with that when it comes. He is a beautiful boy with a fierce intellect and a wry sense of humour. He is hugely emphatic and just last night got emotional and spent the night snuggling me after I had a chat about how I missed spending quality time with him since he discovered youtube. I will never hide his diagnosis and I want him to embrace it and use the skill set it brings. We have a lot of work to do together but any child with an abundance of love should thrive to the best of their abilities. And boy do I love this kid.
Please post your comments below.

About the Author

Mother of 3 young boys, blogging about poo, post-baby vags and other beautiful aspects of parenting and domestic slavery.

Comments

Please login to leave a comment.