I suppose I always knew in my heart that there was something different with my son, I know it sounds silly to say it but it's true.
He was sitting on his own at 4 months, crawling about 5 1/2 months and walking at 9 months. His physical side never was an issue, it was other things. I notice that he would never make eye contact and barely looked at your face, I brushed that aside until others noticed it too.
Joseph went to a childminders from 3 months of age and, if I am honest, I barely saw him. I would leave the house at 7asm, dropping him off at the childminders, picking him up just before 7pm and by the time I got him home, he'd be sparkers. Weekends were always a blur, Saturday rolled round and I would be out shopping, home cleaning and again by the time I'd finished all the household chores, he was sparkers again. Sundays was the only day I could relax and spend quality time with my son, I suppose it was a burden a single working mother had the bear but he was never lacking attention. When he was 1yr and 3 months, I lost my job due to the recession and only then did I really notice
what was going on with my son.
He was usually quiet and preferred to watch other kiddies play, rather than join in. I quickly noticed that he recognised a lot of places, when we'd go out and that he'd only eat certain coloured foods. I've never been a mum before and no one tells you what is normal for a child, so I took it as a normal thing. Then when he was 18 months old, I started worrying, he hadn't even attempted to talk, his tempers were bad, I was being bitten every day, hit, kicked, things were constantly flying in the house. Jo would even bang his head against the floor when he was in a mood, his tempers ran out of control when he didn't like some i.e. hoover being on or a TV program, wanted channel changed etc. A family friend was working in a disability center with kids and said to me that I should get a GP's opinion, which I did. Our GP referred us to the Dingly Child's center at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and within 1 month, we had his first appointment.
A paediatrician, Child Therapist/Behaviorist and a specialized Dr in the Autism spectrum, were all in attendance. It's usually a 1hr 45 min session but it ran into just over 3hrs. Each profession took it in turns to play with Jo and assess him and also chat to me. Prior to attending, I'd been given questionnaires by the center to fill out in regards to Jo, I filled one out and his nursery did too. I was also interviewed on Jo during this session. The conclusion was that Jo seemed to be at a 10 - 12 month old level in speech and communication, putting him a little over a year behind and 6 - 12 months ahead with his psychical aspects.
I went away and 2 weeks later received the official diagnosis letter, that my son is in the Autism Spectrum but due to his age, they couldn't assess how far along he would be, only that he is on the medium scale. Jo is 2yrs 4 months old.
So from then, I visited the directgov.uk website and requested a disability allowance form for children under 16, I called child tax credit, the ADS etc. As a full time mum, I would be his carer and would be entitled to a certain amount a month, in disability to help towards costs, your child tax credit will also change and you may get slightly more, once you have been approved disability.
I am also attending Makaton courses ( http://www.makaton.org/ ), which is £25.00 for the whole course and pays for the book handout you get (it's very informative and Makaton is a charity organization, so the £25.00 goes towards the printing). Although, I think it's £75.00 for a professional qualification but at the end of the course, whether there to learn for your own child or for a profession, you will still receive a certificate acknowledging that you have participated/passed the course. I am also starting an Early Bird course, which is run by the National Autistic Society (NAS) http://www.nas.org.uk/earlybird, they teach you all about Autism and how to deal with your child etc. I've already met some lovely people through this. My Health Visitor has been very supportive and is currently seeing what else is out there to help me, as I am finding it rather difficult to get by on a daily basis.
Jo attends a nursery twice a week for 2.5hrs a session, which has brought him on leaps and bounds. I am recently finding it a very tough time, I'm doing this all on my own and it isn't easy at all. I can't leave Jo with just anyone, he flips right out, so he goes to my parents if I ever need a sitter. He doesn't eat regularly, maybe every 3 or 4 days he'll eat a proper meal and every day, my kitchen floor and walls look like an artist's canvas
I have to deal with constant tantrums, a good 8 or 10 times a day and it takes a good 20 mins a time to calm him down from it, during the process, I end up bitten.
But there is a lot of help out there for me and I just wanted to share that; there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Sorry for rambling on