A lot of parents that I have spoken to have told me the moments when they started putting the pieces of the puzzle together. The moment when it clicked that there was something about their child which made them different to others. The moment when the pieces of the Autism puzzle came together.
For me it probably came a little later than some, Little Legs is an only child. We had nobody else to compare her to until she stared nursery. She was always just our little fiercely independent lady that didn’t like fuss. On her first day of nursery, she had her settling in session, she was 3 years old and the moment her little hand left mine, she didn’t look back. There were no tears, no nothing. Off she went to the water table where she stayed for the entirety of her session. I was so proud that she felt comfortable to go off and do her own thing.
As the months went by, we would catch up and have meetings with her nursery key worker. She had concerns, Little Legs liked doing her own thing, Little Legs didn’t take part in carpet time, she struggled to make friends, she didn’t like playing with others. In fact during her time in nursery, she only made one friend, that friend is still her closest friend today at 8 years old. We were baffled as she always loved being around other children but as time went on we saw that she enjoyed her own company, she was happier playing by herself and we had no concerns. When school started we thought that this would be the time when she would start to develop relationships with others and for a while that was true. It was all new and friendships started to form, I couldn’t have been happier for her. Then we noticed the cracks, she didn’t like role play games, she struggled to make sense of them. For a lot of young girls, role play is a key feature in their play and this soon took its toll. She didn’t lose friends but she distanced herself, much preferring to play in the dirt looking for bugs. We thought she was jut a strong-willed little girl that knew what she liked, and for the most part that was true.
Then like a wave we were engulfed in daily “Hi Mum/Dad, can we have a quick word?” from the teachers. Whilst she had settled in brilliantly, she wasn’t listening. There was always something that she had done, or hadn’t done. I was beginning worry and think they were labelling her as a badly behaved child. That I wasn’t doing my job as a parent properly. That I had failed her somehow.
We noticed behaviours at home and for the first time, I saw that she was different. She wasn’t this little girl that was coming home all smiles, with certificates, balloons and rewards. She was the child that had her name on the red space every day without fail. She was a child that saw no danger in the world. She is a child that sees the world differently.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment we realised but after one meeting with the teachers where I became angry for my daughter, angry because nothing was changing and it felt like we were hitting a brick wall. We gradually stopped trying to alter her behaviours, we saw her struggles and realised it was time for help. That’s where our journey began
She is the child that I love and adore completely, she is perfect in every way. I would not change her for the world and I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of the feeling of guilt for trying to push and change her when we didn’t know any better.
For now, we are still putting the pieces of the puzzle together and learning along the way