Early days 3

After the boys had been diagnosed with autism, together with their respective speech delays, I looked forward to the commencement of ‘therapy’ in it’s many and various forms.  I went along armed with a notebook and pen, to sit in on the sessions so that I could learn what they were doing and how, so that I could reinforce everything at home.  I was also secretly hoping that I would find all their magic tricks.  I would learn what I was doing wrong. I would learn whatever it was that I should be doing and I would learn to do it better.  I would do it better than anyone else, for longer than anyone else and I would make it work.

Although I had read everything I could lay my hands on but I had the distinct feeling that I was missing something, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was.

From the time of their being diagnosed to the start of therapy I had coped well, or what I considered to be ‘well’ under the circumstances.  I knew that the boys were autistic because I had done something wrong, although I wasn’t quite sure what that was either.  I had determined, if not to ‘make amends,’ at least to adopt a positive stance to our change of circumstances.  I had told the people who needed to be told.  We ‘regrouped’ at home and intensified our learning.  I put what I learned into practice in an amateur manner, confident that soon, experts would intervene to put us on the right track.

Therapy commenced, an intensive programme for both the boys, individually. I watched and waited.  There are few things as frustrating for a parent as having to watch [and pay] for 50 minutes of speech therapy where your child refuses to utter a syllable.  I waited to see what would happen, what was the magic key to force him to speak?  Sometimes I could do it at home, sometimes I couldn’t but the difference between the two, were beyond me, a mystery.  The experts would know.  They would teach me, I would learn.

After a few of these sessions where the therapist debriefs the parent on conclusion, I asked what we should be doing at home.  I was advised that homework would be very helpful.  For that week we should perhaps go to the park.  As he climbed up the ladder I should chant ‘up, up, up’ and ‘down, down, down’ on the other side.  Additionally, a Nursery Rhyme [I forget which one now] would be of great benefit.

It was one of the few times that I burst into tears in front of a professional.  The shock was profound, I was bereft.  That was it?  Did she think I had kept my son in a cardboard box under the stairs for the previous three and a half years? There were no magic tricks.

I turned away from my son so that he would not see me weep and attempted to compose myself, straighten my limp upper lip.  If I’m honest, I don’t really know what I was expecting from the experts?  I was so sure that I was missing something, that there was something else I should be doing or should stop doing, as if everybody else in the world ‘knew’ but that it was a secret that I was not party too.

I’d like to tell you that he ran to my arms for a hug, to wipe away my tears and said “I love you mum,” something uplifting, funny or tender but I can’t tell a blatant lie.

I only had to wait another four years for him to say those words.

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