Updated: Apr 26, 2021
Communion year can bring a whole new aspect to life with an ASD child, where literal interpretation can lead to a lot of discomfort. Eat my body and drink my blood can lead to a lot of unusual conversations. This year thankfully, we were able to get confirmation of a diagnosis of ASD and ADHD for our eldest (late in the calendar year but mid-school year).
Summer was full of excitement. September would see our lad in a class with a male teacher. Four years of female teachers, it was certainly going to be a different experience.
It was fantastic. The teacher was brilliant. I'm not saying there weren't issues, phone calls, meetings, incidents but the whole demeanour was different. Our boy worked hard to impress his teacher. His confidence grew, he worked hard at his homework and he actually tried things that were new. He made friends again with some of his classmates as well.
Maybe it was because the school were trying some different things. Maybe it was because the teacher recognised our lad was different in ways. Maybe it was due to him being a little more mature. Maybe it was because my wife and I were trying different things at home as well. In truth it was probably bits of everything were working for him and if something wasn't working we tried something else.
We were taking him monthly to various appointments with LUCENA. I should say my wife was. Speech therapy, physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Social Workers, Psychologist the list seemed never ending. The attendances seemed never ending. We begged them for help and assistance. For a diagnosis. For an indication even that we might be going along the right track. The answer was always the same 'These processes take time.'
My wife and I went to see a councilor for ourselves this year as well. We needed to vent. We needed to be heard. We needed to communicate our own feelings of frustration, anger and guilt. While we knew that we were working together, we needed to communicate and hear how each of us needed our own support. We wanted to ensure that both of us knew we were there for each other. It's very easy to lose yourselves. Something else parents need to be aware of.
Through this year GAA got a little more complex. The lads started doing 'air hurling' it's quite a complex skill but it's not until recently - thanks to the work that the coaches put in over a long number of months that it's started to click and our lad can now raise a ball and strike it in one movement. It's not very fluid but it is now often and he's getting the sliotar over the bar. It might be a different case when the games pick back up (after COVID) but he's doing really well for himself there and has a great crew of coaches.
This year also saw him starting at Karate. Something I was against completely. During his worst melt downs he would lash out and I felt that it was probably safer not having him trained in 'how to hit'. We've since learned that Karate, the sense of discipline, structure and the physical exertion of the lessons can actually help children with ASD in a lot of cases. Since joining, he's gone up a belt or two and has thoroughly enjoyed himself. His coaches are great - his main coach has a really good understanding of him.