Early signs of Autism, My son’s story…
What is Autism? Some people call it hidden illness and some call it a disorder of neural development.. How common is autism these days? If you ask me, I’d say it’s a story found in almost every other house. But can we identify it? Sadly some of us don’t even know the meaning of it until or unless we face this bitter reality of life.
Common Mistake: The problem I’ve seen is that mostly parents are in denial about the fact that there’s something wrong with their child. Some parents can’t even indentify the early signs of autism and they keep thinking that there is nothing wrong with their child. Or sometimes relatives and friends give them false hopes by telling them that their child will start speaking soon, they’ ll also quote examples of their own children or someone else’s children. This is where the parents make mistake and they start waiting for their child to miraculously speak someday which delays the chances of their child to improve sooner.. Thus, making everything difficult for themselves because they’d listen to other people but they won’t take a professional help.
Early signs of Autism in my son: Although the scientists have confirmed that genetics has nothing to do with it, I was still very afraid for my children because we had a case of autism in the family. I’d always watch them like a hawk to observe if everything was fine with them. My elder one was 17 months old when my second son was born. As the time passed by, I started to notice that my little one, Saad seemed to be a little lost. He was eight months old when I figured out that there was something wrong with him but everyone at home called it ‘ my fear’. By the time he was twenty moths old, I saw signs of autism in him which were:
- Not responding to his name
- Not making eye contact
- Not saying more than two or three words
- Throwing tantrums
So we took him for an assessment test to Children’s hospital Lahore. they had his ears checked first to see if he could hear well which came out to be clear. By the end of the day, when we were taken to the doctor’s clinic, she told that my son Saad was on the border of Autism. “We cannot call him an autistic child but can’t deny the fact that he has autistic features in him. But I m glad that you brought him on a very early stage which parents don’t do most of the time. We can have his therapies started right away, hopefully he’ll improve very soon” These were her exact words. All I could hear were the words ‘autistic, autism and therapies. I felt I was devasted because I had seen the hard work one has to do with these children and I knew I could never have that courage or patience. But I had to pull myself together for my son.
Therapies: We started his behavior as well as speech therapies right away.But it had to be in one language so that it could be easy for him to grasp it quickly.s So we chose English as most of the cartoons he’d watch were in English and at school, all subjects, except for Urdu, were in English. Initially, it was quite hard to make him sit as he’d start throwing his tantrums but slowly he began to respond. He started following instructions a little bit, he learned to speak few words, following short sentences, he started giving eye contact and also responded to his name. As his speech developed and he started communicating, his tantrums got better which made us realize how frustrated he could have felt for not being able to tell or express what he wanted to.
Developing his talent:Autism is a massive spectrum and the behavior can vary from very odd to very brilliant. Saad has always been taking good grades in his class. But i didn’t want to restrict him to his studies only. By the time he was 5 years old, I put him in music class for piano lessons. His teacher found it a bit difficult to teach him as he wouldn’t like to sit for more than 10 minutes. But even those ten minutes were enough for us to observe how well his little fingers were placed on the keys of piano. He had the fingers of a pianist. So we decided not to give up. We’d give him reinforcement every time he’d play good and behave well. And by the grace of God, today he is considered to be the best piano player among children of Islamabad. He performs at different charity shows, held by his school principal, he appeared on Morning Show on ATV channel back in 2013, he even once played piano at PC Bhurban as well.
Now when people see him, no one can believe that he had autistic features in him and how hard those five years of his therapies were for us.People ask me what is my greatest achievement in life. I tell them that my son is my greatest achievement. Because I was able to identify his problem at the right stage. The purpose of writing this article is that a parent should have awareness of this problem and what to do about it. It’s better to take some professional help on time rather than waiting for a miracle which, sometimes leads to permanent damage.