Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them. There are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK – that’s more than 1 in 100. It effects so many families across the UK, and is something we still don’t talk about enough. Katie is a mum who has a little boy who is Autistic. She gives an honest account of the first few years on her son Masons life, and the challenges they have encountered.
A question I often get asked is ‘what were the first red flag signs?’ that Mason was autistic. What did I notice with Mason’s development that lead me to think something was wrong?
I first noticed Mason was different around 10 months old. I gave it a little time, but by 14 months I rung my health visitor to express my concerns. Mason wasn’t pointing, waving, clapping or copying anything. He was a very easy baby, dare I say too easy! However, he didn’t have any interest in his surroundings and he had no words or babbling.
‘I trusted my instincts and ignored those who dismissed my concerns’
Mason was diagnosed at 2 years and 3 months old. I trusted my instincts and ignored those who dismissed my concerns. Fighting for a diagnosis is common for parents with autistic children. We were given help from a speech therapist, occupational therapist and child psychologist.
Fast forward to now, Mason is now 3 years old. He’s babbling but is still non-verbal. Recently, he learnt to clap but still has never waved bye bye or pointed at anything. He’s very dependant on routine, and gets distressed if anything changes. His meltdowns are incredibly hard work. He now has more understanding, but he’s still unable to follow basic instructions. We are going through the very stressful progress in getting him into a special needs school which is proving a battle but one that I’m certain we will win!
On a positive note, mason is very loving little boy, he’s so happy and sweet. He only meltdowns when things don’t go his way or if there’s a change of routine. We do our best to avoid this as much as possible. He’s my best friend and such a fun child to be around.
‘even though at times it was difficult, demanding and painful’
I was only 22 when I had Mason, I breastfed him for nearly 4 months until I went back to work. It would have been longer if I hadn’t gone back to work so soon and I wasn’t producing enough milk to keep him full for more than 30 minutes! I really enjoyed our breastfeeding journey even though at times it was difficult, demanding and painful. It was so worth it and I’m proud we managed it for 4 months.
My motherhood journey has been a rollercoaster so far but my little boy is so special and loved. All the fighting for medical and educational help is always worth it. I will continue to advocate for autism acceptance for the rest of my life. I want Mason to always be surrounded by friends and people who love him just as much as I do. Autistic children want to play and join in with their peers but they just can’t always express it too well. We are so lucky they society’s attitudes towards special needs have changed so much in recent years. Inclusion for Mason is so important to me and so far he has always been included at pre school and has made some lovely friends. Long may it continue as he gets older.