Twas the Night Before Christmas And all through the house The creatures were stirring Yes, even the mouse We tried melatonin And gave a hot bath But the holiday jitters They always distract The children were finally All nestled in bed When nightmares of terror Ran through my OWN head Did I get the right gift The right color And style Would there be a tantrum Or even, maybe, a smile? Our relatives come But they don’t understand The pleasure he gets Just from flapping his hands. “He needs discipline,” they say “Just a well-needed smack, You must learn to parent…” And on goes the attack We smile and nod Because we know deep inside The argument is moot Let them all take a side We know what it’s like To live with the spectrum The struggles and triumphs Achievements, regressions… But what they don’t know And what they don’t see Is the joy that we feel Over simplicity He said “hello” He ate something green! He told his first lie! He did not cause a scene! He peed on the potty Who cares if he’s ten, He stopped saying the same thing Again and again! Others don’t realize Just how we can cope How we bravely hang on At the end of our rope But what they don’t see Is the joy we can’t hide When our children with autism Make the tiniest stride We may look at others Without the problems we face With jealousy, hatred Or even distaste, But what they don’t know Nor sometimes do we Is that children with autism Bring simplicity. We don’t get excited Over expensive things We jump for joy With the progress work brings Children with autism Try hard every day That they make us proud More than words can say. They work even harder Than you or I To achieve something small To reach a star in the sky So to those who don’t get it Or can’t get a clue Take a walk in my shoes And I’ll assure you That even 10 minutes Into the walk You’ll look at me With respect, even shock. You will realize What it is I go through And the next time you judge I can assure you That you won’t say a thing You’ll be quiet and learn, Like the years that I did When the tables were turned……
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Its not a word you would usually come across in day to day life. When I think of it I used to be reminded of the scene in Pearl Harbour in which the nurses have to mark the wounded men with lipstick.
For us triage is part one of a much bigger process, a process that has consumed our lives and will continue to do so until William receives a diagnosis. William’s triage appointment was today… As you can understand due to the current pandemic this appointment is not face to face but instead was done over the phone.
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I slept well (or even at all) last night waiting for this call, the crazy irrational thoughts kept me awake… ‘what if they decide he doesn’t need to be on the waiting list and we have to start afresh in a different sector’ ‘what if they say he is the way he is because we are shit parents’ ‘What if I don’t say the right things?’
I know it’s irrational and crazy and so does Dave or at least that’s what he told me at daft o’clock this morning when I was still awake trying to ask Dr Google what they will be asking us. Not that it helped any way as we couldn’t find a list of questions anywhere ❓❓❓Not very helpful for ridiculously anxious people like me who like to be prepared for everything. This notebook (which I just had to find and get ready at for 4am to be prepared for a 10am call) has been with me to every appointment. The writing is messy and blurred from tears. Anybody but me would find it indecipherable but I take great comfort in knowing I have it and can refer to it when needed. It is like a comfort blanket and knowing I look over it to see what meetings we have had, what questions we have asked and what answers we have and have not received makes me feel like I am a better parent than I am.
The call came in literally as the clock ticked over to 10am, I was mid wee 😳 Appointments are never on time so I was sure this one would be the same. The woman was called Emma Gibson and she gave off good vibes if that makes sense. Pleasant to speak to, not too clinical and had a friendly tone to her voice.
So I made notes (shocking) in my little book about each question asked so that anyone reading this waiting for their triage appointment can have a rough guideline to take the anxiety off a little. Each lead to other questions so this will not be a comprehensive list.
When did you first notice something was wrong? Holy shit she went straight in there with the bullet to the head! 😔🔫 As many of you will know already it took a long time for us to openly admit something was wrong with our child and it wasn’t until William was after 2 that we started writing about him publicly on Facebook to share our journey. It wasn’t that we were ashamed, we were frightened, not only thing things William would struggle with but of the stigma that comes with having a learning disability.
Who is in your household?
Is Dave Williams dad? I had to kick Dave to make sure he didn’t pull his usual not funny trick of saying ‘as far as I’m aware’ or ‘Yes or the milkman’s’ Honestly these jokes are almost as old as the one were he says he’s shagging my sister 🙄
Do you both work? Who’s the main breadwinner? What does he do for a living? Insert idle chit chat here about how the current pandemic is effecting him at work.
Has there been any history of trauma or domestic violence that may have impacted William? I had just kick Dave but that doesn’t count… No of course not 😇
Is there a history of autism in our family?
Is there a history of mental health issues? I explained about my lengthy battle with postnatal depression and anxiety and the medication I had been on and for how long. I’m not ashamed of it, in fact i’m proud. Although it took me a long time to seek help, I eventually did and came out the other side. Some people don’t.
What other agencies are involved with William? We then discussed things his paediatrician had put forward; blood testing and genetics testing and our next appointment. We discussed Lisa who liaises with the nursery in regards to his education.
Are social services involved? Eh? No!
What was my pregnancy like? We discussed how high risk it was, the lengthy induction, having an assisted labour, gestational diabetes, being in hospital longer than expected.
Is William on any medication?
Did you bond with William? Yes. No. Maybe? He didn’t really bond with me? He’s indifferent.
What was he like in meeting his milestones? Insert big head joke here and not sitting up until 10 months.
What were his first words? 🤐
What does him playing look like?
Does he make eye contact? If he does can he maintain it or is it fleeting?
Does he respond to his own name?
Does he indicate hisemotions or pain with facial expressions? Let me tell you something… Justin Bonomo and Erik Seidel are amateurs compared to William when it comes to having a good poker face. I’ve let me nerd slip out again there. Justin and Erik are two of the most famous poker players in the world.
How does he behave with other kids at nursery?
Are there any children outside of nursery that he engages with?
What kind of support does he receive at nursery?
Am I OK to contact the nursery?
Does William recognise other peoples emotions?
What are Williams meltdowns like? Like a tornado ripping through my living room. Like stepping into the ring with Conor Mcgregor. Like trying to hold onto an oiled up contortionist.
What sensory issues does William suffer with?
What are the main indicators he is about to have a meltdown?
What are his eating habits like other than during meltdowns?
Does he show any signs of anxiety?
What is his sleep pattern like?
Are there any things he cant do in regards to his motor skills? Jump. Hop. Point. Wave. Clap.
What is he like with danger? or strangers? No sense of danger or recognition between familiar adults and strangers. That was it! Interrogation over.
She was happy that William had been referred to the right place and he will remain on the waiting list 🎉🎉🎉 Relief swept over me. Tears ran down my face.
What happens next?
A letter confirming this will be sent to all parties involved. A team of specialised autism nurses will be on hand during our wait to answer any questions we may have.
The wait is currently between 2 and 2 and a half years. We will not be contacted until William is at the top of the list. To put things into number which you know I enjoy, there are over 900 people in front of him in Hull alone. In order to them to bring their waiting time down they must assess a minimum of 8 people per week and I know a company called Healios have stepped in to alleviate some of the pressure but they can’t carry out all the assessments as they conduct theirs via video link and not all of those waiting would benefit from such an assessment. The actual assessment is called ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) and it is currently the standardised diagnostic tool for diagnosing ASD. The ADOS process involves observations under controlled circumstances that other professionals are able to replicate. Only trained professionals can administer the ADOS diagnostic screening, but it eliminates some of the differences of opinion otherwise possible when two different experts provide a diagnosis without following the same consensus in regards to what they should be looking for. Using the one set of clear guideline minimises the margin for misdiagnosis and errors.
When it is Williams turn for his assessment he will already be finishing his first term of his second year at school 📚 That is if they continue seeing people at their current rate.
November/December 2022 – What a brilliant Christmas gift that will be for us that year 🎄🎁