My eldest son, Ethan was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder just after his 3rd birthday. I have always known that there was a chance my son would be on the spectrum as his father is as well. It runs down the male line on his father’s side. We just never expected him to be further down the spectrum scale. Ethan never crawled properly only army crawled, didn’t walk till 18 months old. Once he was walking, he just took off running and didn’t stop. Ethan barely spoke just the odd babbling and never wanted to engage and play games with us. Ethan was pretty much nonverbal till the age of 4 when we were lucky enough to get a placement at an early intervention centre called AEIOU, This centre changed our lives for the better. They helped Ethan to communicate with us using PECs (Picture Exchange Communication System). Within the first 6 months they helped us day toilet train with their intensive program. Which I just didn’t believe was possible when they told me, as Ethan just couldn’t sit still for more than 2 seconds. But we did it!!! Ethan stayed at AEIOU for 2 1/2 years. He just kept making progress, we did have the occasional set back. We just kept moving forward. Every day was a new day.
Last year Ethan started a mainstream state school. Ethan had his ups and downs. He didn’t really understand what school was all about. He just wanted to play and do his thing. Thou the school was beyond amazing; their hands were tied with the amount of resources they could use to help Ethan. Half way thru the year we decided to get Ethan’s IQ tested. To see where he sat and how we could best help him. If it was best to stay with mainstream school or to look at a special school. Ethan’s IQ came back low, and he was later diagnosed with an intellectual disability as well as the Autism. With this diagnosis it opened more doors for us to help Ethan. It meant Ethan could go to a special school that help children with disabilities. We made the hard choice to decide to give special school a try. We were so sad to say goodbye to mainstream school. As they were just beyond fantastic. They become our family. Ethan formed such close bond with them all, including his beautiful class mate whom just so excepting of Ethan for who is was.
This year Ethan started out at special school. Its only early days but he seems to be doing well. His teacher and aid are fantastic. Working all together to help Ethan achieve his goals. To be able to continue communicating with us, hopefully to be able to make friends, be independent. All the things we take for granted.