The first few years of my son’s life appeared normal like most babies; nappy changes, bathing, feeding, tickling, crawling, seven teeth at 7 months, walking and his first words mum and dad. Through his early developing years, he would play like most children. Then shortly after his second birthday and for several months following he seemed to stop developing and spent more hours a day staring at the leaves on the trees or was just vacant looking into space. Next came a breakdown in his speech, he stopped saying mummy and daddy, or asking questions like other children such as “why is the sky blue” or “how much longer”, and at pre-school he would generally prefer solo play, he was truly in his own world.
As discerning parents, we went to our local GP to ask why our child was not progressing in his development, rather he was going backwards? The GP uncertain of reason or cause referred us to a pediatrician, a specialist in development disorders for children, who, after 15 minutes observing Mitchell informed us he has PDD-NOS (Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). Once we understood this was Autism, the realization set in and we were naturally devastated. We collected the pamphlets provided as well as a list of telephone numbers. We started ‘intervention mode’ and commenced speech therapy sessions immediately and found an occupational therapist, got hearing tests, psychologist assessments, started a gluten free diet, enrolled him in early Intervention programs and found a uni student to work with him 4 hours a week, while we continued our journey trawling the Internet and books to further research about Autism and how we could help our little boy fit into our world and how we could try to better fit into his world. At the age of three, Mitchell had a formal assessment and was diagnosed having high functioning Autism.
When Mitchell was 6 he was able to put a few short sentences together and asks for most essential needs, sometimes the words are not in the right order but at least he’s trying and socializing more, he loves to imitate people and characters and is very good at it, he sings beautifully and hums a lot, he remembers strap lines from all kinds of TV jingles and enjoys practicing faces in the mirror, we get the occasional sentence like “I want milk please mummy” or “help please daddy”, or “thank-you very much“.
Mitchell also has delayed echolalia and often repeats phrases he has learned, sometimes in the right instance, most times it’s random phrases from TV programs he likes or phrases he’s learned while surfing You Tube.
UPDATE MARCH 29 2014
Mitchell is now 10 and reading well and writing much better, he is enjoying writing in his Diary with pictures to go with each short story. He is filled with energy and continues to eat mainly from the White Food Groups (Banana, bread, pasta, fish, chicken, rice, milk) he loves to make You Tube videos and really wants to put them up live on the web but I have told him he must practice more, make the videos more professional so he practices every day.
Mitchell loves to ask all sorts of questions and really likes asking the ones that he knows the answer to… if I answer wrong he is quick to correct me (takes after his father) ;o) We have recently moved about 8 hours North of Sydney and are happily living in the Norther Rivers area…the most eastern point of Australia.