The first time – Achievements of a child with autism from a parent’s perspective

All children have firsts. The first time they sit up, crawl, eat solid food, walk, talk, ride a bike, etc. For some children these things happen naturally, as they are supposed to. They reach these important developmental milestones within the ‘normal’ timescales and all of this is wonderful, all is well with the world. For others these things are a bit more difficult, take a bit more time and for some may never happen at all. The non-achievement of some of these early milestones, combined with the difficult time around and after J’s birth, helped us to identify his issues and realise that all was not well with his wee world. He didn’t sit up when he was supposed to, he walked before he crawled, he didn’t say those first words everyone longs to hear and it’s likely he might not ever be able to ride a bike.


These basic things are the things that are painful for a parent to bear. Initially you tell yourself that he will get there, it’s just taking him a little longer than it took his cousins. Then you make other excuses, like he preferred walking and was so keen to do this that he didn’t have the patience to crawl first. You ignore the fact that crawling is an important developmental stage and the fact that you know a child missing this out can be a sign that something is wrong. You keep hoping that you’re wrong, that one day it will just all suddenly fall into place and he will do it all at once.

Once B came along it all became a bit more real, something we could no longer hide from or tiptoe around. It was more noticeable, more apparent. J was only 16 months old when we had B and B very quickly caught him up and overtook him developmentally in many ways. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of things J could do when B couldn’t. For example, he recognises every letter of the alphabet and numbers up towards 100 – even if he can’t verbalise them, he can point them out. He has his strengths and they are many. They’re just not the standard things other children do. He doesn’t draw, write, speak or play imaginatively. He has difficulty sitting for periods of time, settling down and issues with sleeping. He doesn’t understand rules, boundaries or safety. However, he is still a little sponge; soaking up the world around him. He just processes it all in a slightly different way from us.

It can be hard for us to understand what he’s thinking, how he feels or what he wants. He can’t always verbalise it the way B does. It doesn’t stop him trying to show us and he really perseveres in making us understand. He’s started using PECS to communicate when he started school, but it’s limited by what he’s learned about it so far and there are some things it will likely never cover.

He has said mummy for a good while now and I still remember being blown away the first time he said it fairly audibly. It took him a good while longer to say daddy. I remember thinking that this must be hard for my husband. He dealt with it well and tries not to let it bother him too much but I know he feels it. Who wouldn’t? He was our first born and we had to wait for our second child for him to hear that beautiful word for the first time. J says it now and it’s so lovely to hear. For all parents with non-verbal children, we feel your pain. If you haven’t heard those words already please don’t give up hope. Persevere and say it to them every day, you never know if one of those days it will sink in and you will hear it come back to you. Believe me, when it does, it is so worth it.

I will always remember the first time J said ‘I love you mummy.’ By said, I mean in his own way, using his own approximations of words but it was definitely what he said. He was lying in his bed, we had just read his favourite story, I was kissing him and tucking him in. As I do every night, as I kissed him on the cheek, I whispered ‘I love you J.’ It brought tears to my eyes when he whispered back ‘I wuv woo mummee.’ 😪 He has said those words many times since and every time he does I remember that first time and how happy I felt. It helps me remember to persevere, to keep trying, to never give up hope. After all, we all need a little hope, don’t we?

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Suddenly Seven!

I can’t believe that J is seven years old today. How did that happen? In some ways I feel like we’ve been through a lot since his dramatic arrival and also that he has achieved so much in spite of the difficulties he has. Yet I still wonder how it can be seven years since we first met him and I still remember it all so clearly, as though it was only a few weeks or months ago. Continue reading

Where has my baby gone?

As W turns two I can’t help but miss her baby stage. I wrote this post when she turned one and though the same feelings still apply, she has grown and developed so much more since!

Upside Mum

I find myself asking this question more and more lately. My baby girl turned one year old this week and I just can’t believe it. The first year of her life has passed by so quickly and she has grown into an increasingly independent and capable girl in the blink of an eye. She’s no longer my tiny baby. I had wanted that stage to last just a bit longer – she’s my third child and the last member to join and complete our family. I long for her little snuggly face and her lasting gaze as she was fed. I miss holding and cuddling her; with her not wanting to climb down and set off on her adventures. I wish for a few more times of her lying beside me and not wanting to follow her brothers around on their travels. That little helpless bundle has long since moved…

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Planning a family holiday that caters for different needs and interests

At Christmas I wrote a post about trying to have a Christmas that was suited to everyone’s needs. Well, now it’s summer and we found ourselves again in a situation where we needed to really consider everyone’s needs and likes and take these into account in planning where and when to go on holiday. I know everyone does this when they plan a holiday but for some reason it seems to be a minefield for us at the moment, given the children’s ages, J’s needs and my husband and I’s leave dates. Combine all of this and we had a major headache on our hands. Continue reading

Fear of Dogs

Firstly, let me be clear, this is not an attack on dog owners. I’m sure most are careful, considerate and nice. The people I’ve encountered seem nice and I’m sure nothing they have done is deliberate or intentional, merely a lack of awareness or understanding.

J is terrified of dogs. Not just a little bit afraid or unsure – extremely terrified. He can cope with them at a distance; on tv, on the opposite pavement and miles down the road. Any time they come even remotely close to him he starts flapping, tiptoe jumping, whining and trying to climb up people’s legs whilst also trying to run away or hide behind them. The terror is written all over his face and it’s very obvious that he’s scared. Continue reading

Autism’s hard, isn’t it? 

These were the words my five year old said to me yesterday. It was just after he had come in from the back garden, where he had been trying to play in the water with his older brother J. J loves water and he’s not too keen on sharing it with anyone else. B had tried many times to play with him and when that failed he tried to get his own water to play with, only for J to come and take over that too. He eventually just gave up and came inside, where he climbed up onto my knee for a cuddle.

His words got to me and my heart broke for him. He has so much responsibility on his little shoulders. As well as the normal things he’s asked to do to help his brother there are the unseen things, the things we don’t really think about. The efforts he makes to play with his brother, the allowances he has to make for his needs, the times he has to forgo doing something he wants to accommodate his brother and the times he keeps his sister occupied so that we can deal with one of the many disasters that seem to befall J. Continue reading

What have I learned from 2016?

The end of another year and the beginning of the next are upon us again. It hardly seems like any time since this happened last year. Admittedly last year it all seemed a bit of a blur, as W was just under 4 months and I was still in that sleep-starved haze (which never seems to have gone away!) With another year over, I have found myself thinking about just what has happened or what has been achieved during the last twelve months. If I am being honest life has been so busy that it’s whizzed past and I seem to have achieved nothing substantial. With the way things have been lately I should probably just be grateful that I’m still (almost) standing now that we’ve reached the end. Continue reading