From when our son was a toddler we knew there was something unusual about him.
He was loving to a select few people, he spoke in adult ways, he was pedantic about the organisation and structure of play with his toys. It was a fate worse than death for any person who was silly enough to park the little police car in the ambulance bay on his car mat. Lego building was a precise and time consuming activity as all colours had to match pictures and none other could be substituted. We watched the same episode of Thomas The tank engine over and over and he would have a full on melt down if I tried to change to a different episode. Playgroup was a nightmare with Jack crying and hitting out at other children.
We spoke to the clinic sisters and doctors. They insisted all was fine.
We brought home a baby girl and Jacks' dislike for her was immense. He threw Tonka trucks at her. Pinched, pulled, smacked and stomped on her. We could not leave them in the same room as each other. When he described our family she was left out. She did not exist.
We spoke to clinic sisters and doctors. They insisted all was fine.
When he started school he could not cope with playground energy. He spent most of his Prep playtime either crying on the Prep steps or sitting in timeout for not playing properly. In the classroom he gazed out the window and daydreamed. In diary writing he learnt to write 3 words. Look At Me. He wrote those words each day and drew a scratchy picture of a boy in black and red crayon. After a month of the same sentence his teacher told him she never wanted him to write that sentence again. He stopped writing. He stopped trying.
We spoke to doctors. They insisted all was fine.
From Grade One to Grade 3 he spent almost every playtime in detention as punishment for incomplete work. The cycle was endless and soul destroying. I asked teachers to stop punishing him and start praising and they agreed. They punished him anyway. He only ever used black and red to draw. He said the other colours hurt his hands. He would say "I'm not a nice little boy". He had night terrors. He was so lost. He had no friends. He struggled to read the most basic words. School reports were harsh. I started surfing the internet for answers. Again and agin I came back to Aspergers Syndrome.
We spoke to doctors. They INSISTED all was fine.
It was suggested the problems were ADD, that he needed medication, that it would be
We spoke to doctors. They conceded that perhaps, maybe, there was a chance that all was not fine, but admonished me for wanting to label my child.
At his small high school, finally, someone noticed. Finally someone stopped punishing and started helping us find answers. At high school my darling boy was finally allowed to be his quirky self. At high school teachers were given strategies to engage him, to help him, to recognise impending meltdowns and to give him an escape. Not all teachers embraced it, but many did. Not all teachers gave a crap, but many did.
The Applied Learning teacher came with me to the Doctor. She advocated for our son. She confirmed all that we had been saying for so so long. She spoke about him in a positive light. She highlighted his strengths as well as his weaknesses.
We sat before a panel describing our home life, describing the hell that was Jacks primary schooling. We described our methods of coping. We described a funny, intelligent and witty young man who saw the world differently. We described a young man who at first refused to learn how to drive as "based on statistics, the motor vehicle is the most deadly weapon of the 21st century" A young man who gave impromptu lectures to groups of school children at Seaworld on the migratory habits of sharks when we went there for a family holiday. A young man who on paper is so far below average but in person is bright and clever with a wicked memory. A young man who has friends, who will sit holding a kitten for hours just so it can sleep, who will play "Guess Who" with his littlest sister so I can get some study done. A young man who, despite all the negativity, is comfortable in his own skin, who likes himself and has a very clear career plan.
The panel deliberated and finally they came back and with gentle voices told us they believed he had a disorder known as Aspergers Syndrome. They offered us comfort and counselling.
We insisted ALL WAS FINE