It’s funny but I remember back when Fionn was first being queried through the school system as being autistic. He was our 3rd child and we could think of so many reasons to justify how he was other than Autism:
he was a baby after an 8 year gap
grew up in company of older children
didn’t mix easily as had a 1:1 childminder
was very verbal – when he wanted to be
was affectionate – with immediate family
was happy ….at home
and we then noticed we were putting in limits/reasons which really didn’t apply to other children. During his first year at nursery school in February he hadn’t any friends.
when school started to question we already I suppose had – individual concerns – but were not sure of our own opinions. So we took him for a private assessment . We thought that if we were told that he needed help then the earlier we got things in place, the better his outcomes would be. So Fionn was assessed as very definitely having aspergers with sensory attention deficit – or co morbid ADHD.
we then had to clue up! so we started to go to “what is Autism” evenings. I found them fascinating and could recognise so many of the bullets points on the slide show. Jimmy leaned over to me at the first meeting and said “do you think you see yourself on some of these impairments?” and i honestly reply” yeah…do you?”. the answer was worthy of a nice dig in the ribs ….it was “no Helen…but I see you!”
I never really thought anymore of it – as I think when you are aware of a condition you tend to see features of it in everyone. You walk through town spotting ASD, ADHD, Asperger’s children and adults! But recently have gone back mentally to my childhood, and I really do wonder how many of us either were the child in the class who was odd? a loner? a bit strange? only child? or how many of us can at least remember the child who was. If people were aware of the condition in our day, would I have a label??
- i was sent to school at 3 as my aunt taught there, and the numbers were down and I was able to go, so was dispatched at 8 am and home about 5 pm. I didn’t mind.
- the school closed within 6 months and I had picked up too much to go into P1 , so was brought back and pushed into a P2 class.
- i didn’t mix with the kids. i asked the teacher if her mum would pack her a lunch to stay with me.
- i walked around at break-time with a nun- Sr Assumpta – and chose to pick up litter.
- i was a good girl. I worked hard and was driven to please.
- i was abnormally talented at music. i loved it. i practised in my world for hours each day and loved it. i did grade 8 when i was 12 years old.
- secondary school was difficult – as i knew i was unable to mix with my class as they were so much older and more street wise than i was. I did have younger friends – but again with hindsight they were family contacts.
- i knew i was the nerd – too immature and tbh it didn’t bother me. I knew it was unusual to accompany the choir and sing solo and i knew that it made me the butt of humour, but that really didn’t bother me.
- i remember standing on the landing at home looking out the window with my dad who would be laughing as the other kids made a fort or a tennis court out of the council cut grass….and i did maybe feel a bit confused at that – part of me didn’t know why it was wrong, yet i also didn’t want to play with them.
- my play was on the bars… the council fences were primitive metal bars with struts along them…. I spent hours and hours and hours tumbling over those bars. I LOVED that. I wasn’t really supposed to do it as mum said you got nits if the sand and gravel got in your hair…but I LOVED it.
- i didn’t have a social life to speak of – i swam and hung around with a group of friends and friends of the friends – all family connected. But that was the first time i remember trying to mix..was about 15. Was difficult – did like a few boys but was on the edge of the group…..
- i really didn’t have a “happy” or “easy” childhood….but did i hate it? NO!. i managed well and would say that i had my music to save me from isolation.
Its amazing when you think back.
i have to say my gut instinct is that i had many many traits of asperger’s. Would i have been labelled now? well we won’t ever know….
but I am fine…happy now with life and friends i have made. And the streetwise girls who thought the nerd factor and the musical performance was so funny back then are the same ones who come up to me now when i sing, when i produce a concert when i arrange music…and comment on my talent …and how they never realised how talented i was…
must say i didnt go to the class reunion!