There is no evidence of Autism in our family or ancestors. In fact, before my son was born, none of us had ever heard of it!
Adrian was the answer to many prayers. He was such a good baby. He did not sleep much, but he would lie quietly in his bed until he eventually fell asleep. He developed normally, but from the age of 6 to 15 months he had 4 very serious ear, nose and throat infections. I was worried about the constant antibiotics the doctor was prescribing but the infections had to be stopped. The pediatrician removed his tonsils and put grommets in his ears at the age of 16 months.
At seventeen months he had the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine. The morning after the vaccine he refused to eat, and as the days passed I started to notice that something was wrong. His appetite had changed and whereas he previously ate almost everything, he now refused to eat. He did not react to his name or to me, so I had his hearing tested, but nothing was wrong with his hearing.
I was told that he was a late developer with my next visit to the pediatrician. I had never heard of Autism or Asperger Syndrome and neither, it seems, did the doctors that I took him to. The doctors could not decide what was wrong with him. No one even mentioned Autism. They did blood tests and scans and genetic testing and nothing could be found wrong.
He started walking at the age of 15 months. As yet, he had not said a word. When it was bath time, he screamed. He walked on tiptoe. He would not allow other children or strangers to come near him. Any noise made him scream and bump his head against the wall repeatedly. He never let go of his blanket, clinging to it even in his sleep. I noticed that when the lights were on he squinted so had his eyes tested. It was recommended that the florescent lights in my home be changed which did help a lot.
At 22 months my son had still not said a word and seemed to retract more and more into his own world. He only wanted to sit in front of the TV or walk in circles. Meal times were problematic since he only ate when I juiced everything and he could drink it from a bottle. If there were any bits in the juice he had a tantrum and smashed anything near him.
I became more frantic as time passed. Eventually a friend of a friend asked if he had been screened for Autism and gave me a doctor’s particulars. I had already seen many specialists and doctors and no one could find anything wrong. I was told that I was over protective and that my obsession with the thought that something was wrong with Adrian was causing my child to act the way he did.
At this time my husband lost his job. It took him several months to find a job and three more months before his medical aid could be used. We had lost most of what we had. By this time my son’s teeth had started rotting due to his liquid diet. He had also become much thinner.
At the age of nearly 5 we eventually got him to the doctor where he was diagnosed with Classic Autism. I read everything that I could about Autism. At this time, there were very little literature about Autism spectrum Disorders. Some books said that it was curable, others said it wasn’t. I did not really understand what Autism Spectrum Disorders and Pervasive Developmental disorders were. I did not understand most of the terms that were used in the books, and there were very little explanations of the terms used.
I was filled with confusion, anger and despair, but at least his condition now had a name! I felt guilty because he wasn’t diagnosed earlier. If it had been, he could have been helped sooner.
13 months after Adrian were diagnosed with Autism, his father died. Adrian now receives a monthly income from his father’s pension fund. I invested the lump sum I received and the interest was enough to hire a full time teacher for Adrian. When Adrian turned 11 he was re-evaluated and his diagnoses was changed to Asperger Syndrome.
Adrian has just turned 29. We now live on a smallholding, just outside of town. He loves reading and shopping for his favorite foods. He tends our organic vegetable garden and looks after our chickens and live stock. He sings in the church choir and while he is working. Overall he is happy and content although he slaps himself when he is frustrated and talks to himself.
His special interest is video games. He loves animation. I have bought him a program called cartoon maker. He spends all his free time “developing” his own animated “movies”
He is the most honest male I have had the pleasure to know; because if I ask him anything he always answers honestly. He admits it immediately when he has done something wrong. He keeps rules that we have made together.
My son has opened another world to me. I see many things in a different light. It hasn’t been easy; all of the above is only a fraction of our struggle, his struggle to make the world understand that he is different; just as different as everybody else around him is different.
I have increased my life insurance, set up a trust for him and appointed good people to look after his interests when I cannot be there for him anymore and I pray for his future many times every day. Maybe there will be a cure someday, maybe not. But there is hope!