What can I say about our boy? For one thing, he has a heart of gold; he loves hard and is always thinking of others. Yet, ironically, society sees him as “different” or “special”. If a “normal” child is mean, uncaring and rude, it is considered okay, but children on the spectrum are looked at with suspicion.
At first, life was so easy for us, then around the age of 18- months, things started to change. The dynamics in our family changed; it was hard. We were living in an unpredictable environment full of noise and fear. For the first time in years, I was a stay-at-home mum; I was initially okay with it, but sometimes I resented others who went out to work. I miss my life away from the house, so I filled our days with toddler groups and long walks with our dogs in between school pick-ups for our older two. But some days, I felt like I was going insane, Teddie never really seemed to settle when we were out and about, and he had constant fear on his face.
Little problems became bigger ones, so I stopped going anywhere because it bothered me as much as it bothered Teddie. I earned looks from perfect parents because my child always seemed dysregulated. When Teddie was 2 years old, he did not say a single word but always smiled. It made me wonder if maybe something more was going on with him. At his 2-year check-up, in walked an old-school health visitor; I knew then she would pick up on what Teddie could not do. She came with her generic tick list of what children his age should be doing, and although I rolled my eyes, I appreciated her advice.
We agreed that Teddie had not achieved some of his developmental goals, such as talking, and that she would refer him. Even then, it did not occur to me that it could be more than a speech delay.
While we waited for an appointment for what felt like an eternity, I began reflecting on my day. It was as if a weight had fallen off me. My frustration started to lift because I had poured out my heart in writing. The interesting thing is that while I have a great family and friends support system, no one could help me because they have not gone through what we, especially me, were going through. This was then I started Life With A Bear.
The ability to reflect allowed me to scream, shout and sometimes dislike my son without uttering a single word. I immediately noticed a change in myself and wondered if Teddie felt the same way. Unfortunately, he is too young to write down his fears and lacks the language to share them with me. This was the turning point for me. Finally, I was honest with myself about my feelings and ready to embark on the journey into the unknown with Teddie.
I have a background in child psychology and dug out all my old books and articles. Next, I searched the internet for tips to help our boy be the best version of himself. Then I came across Picture Exchange Communication, the game-changer for all of us.