Well as promised… this was the action packed year of family holiday to Bali, me reaching breaking point and Zac getting his first diagnosis of PDD-NOS (they don’t use this anymore thank goodness).
By now meltdowns would happen multiple times daily.. playdates were out of the question after he had a bit of a disagreement with one of our friends kids and punched him in the face…
The playground was an absolute nightmare.. he’d take”possession” of equipment and attack any child that went within 5 metres of it…
There was no more taking him shopping as he would start screaming the minute we walked in.. and frankly, I never realised how many different ways people could tell you what a naughty child you have and the old “in my day” he would’ve gotten a well deserved clip around the ear.. thanks for the advice people…Wish I’d had this printed on a t-shirt back then!!
By now marriage is under enormous pressure, I don’t know which way is up and I would have an anxiety attack everytime I had to take him somewhere..
The day I called the Women’s and Children’s Child Development Unit was another particularly bad day.. Zac just wasn’t stopping and I don’t know what made me call them, in fact I’d had their phone number in my purse for over 12 months… But on this one day I gave up and in tears I called them and it was at this moment our lives were going to change dramatically..
During this time he was having pretty casual OT and Speech and through discussions with his Speech Pathologist, she mentioned that there was a Yoga Class for special needs kids.
She thought, and I agreed, this might help calm him down and give us something relaxing to do together and I didn’t need to worry about his behaviour in this room as we were all in pretty similar boats.
Off we went and glaringly obvious to me now but not then… another tell tale sign of Autism..
Zac would often find something to focus on in situations that made him anxious (at parties he would sit on our lap with his eyes shut – the old if I can’t see them then they can’t see me kinda thing and that would get him through). In the group we were in a circle and the lady running it had a big green ball with a smiley face one it and this became the thing he wanted to focus on..
When it came time to put the ball away he wasn’t having a bar of that and the usual meltdown began… Then a lady came to me, a well known speech pathologist in Adelaide, and she took Zac and the ball aside and spent the entire hour session with him… at the end of the session she said those words that up until now no one else had… “Have you considered he might have Autism”… And the answer to that was NO!!!
In the meantime, my appointment had been made with the Hospital for assessment and we were off to Bali for a 2 week “relaxing” family holiday… so if I wasn’t sure before if he had Autism I sure as hell was after this trip..
The flight over consisted of Zac becoming very similar to a wild cat and scratching me up so badly that I had scratches all over my face, neck and chest and was bleeding… then here’s a genius idea she says in hindsight.. take a child with Autism and Sensory issues and put them in Bali!!! Hot, steamy, loud, different smells and everyone wants to touch you because you’re just so darn cute!!
So what did Zac do.. he set up routines… from the time he got up each day to the order he ate certain foods (remember we’re still on the Weetbix diet)… in fairness we did manage to get him to try a couple of other things on the trip including bananas which funnily enough he only ate in Bali and has never touched one since..
Back home and off to our appointment with the Women’s and Childrens Hospital and he was a bloody angel… after answering a number of questions over a 90 minute period whilst they observed him we were asked to leave and come back in 30 minutes to go through their assessment..
Thankfully they saw through him and noticed his tendency to line things up, match colours and engage in repetitive behaviours and realised there was an issue… not enough to diagnose him with Autism at this stage but enough to make them think he was somewhere on the spectrum so PDD-NOS it was and doors of support were thrown open..
So… here we head into years 3-4 where we’ll talk therapy, therapy and more therapy…
Until then… stay calm and stay healthy.