Autism Awareness Month - April 21
Throughout April we will be sharing a different story each day to help raise Autism Awareness and highlight how peoples' lives have been touched by Autism and Autism Queensland in different ways.
My son Brendan was born 04/10/1985, the beautiful, perfect result of a normal pregnancy and a normal birth. He thrived and grew, and was loved and fussed over by Mum, Dad, and his elder brother and sister. He sat, crawled, and walked in record time, and was toilet trained by 30 months. The only clues were a tendency to rock, an absence of speech, and smiles only when you smiled at him first. Communication became a real issue. He tried to communicate his needs, but when he couldn’t the screaming began. Our G.P was sceptical, thinking I was over-reacting, as every time Brendan went to the surgery, he was an angel. Eventually, under sufferance he referred Brendan to a Paediatrician, and so began the long road to diagnosis, and acceptance. The next few months were a blur of Doctors, Psychologists, O.T.’s, Speech Pathologists, and Pathologists. Brendan did not have fragile x. He could think logically, and in so many ways was a perfectly normal little boy. We spent two years attending weekly speech therapy, during which he attained some verbal communication through Makaton.
At age 5 he started at Autism Qld’s Sunnybank centre. Each morning we drove to Beenleigh where he was able to catch a bus the rest of the way. Each afternoon we picked him up. At that bus stop I met two sets of parents doing exactly the same thing I was. That time waiting for the bus was invaluable. We would compare notes, relate bizarre stories and generally remind each other we were not alone. Bren spent 2 years at Sunnybank, and thrived. I mean he was still autistic, but the support given to him and me helped us focus on all the positive things in his life, as well as managing the negative ones. By now Bren had another brother, 3 years his junior. As the kids grew they became a tight-knit band of merry men. Because we lived on a farm there were no end of scrapes and mischief they could get up to. Bren was always part of it, although one got the impression he never quite understood why they were creating mayhem.
One incident I have never forgotten is approximately 20 years ago while watching his elder brother play soccer, Bren was quietly sitting rocking and flicking rubber bands beside his 7y.o sister, who was talking to another little girl she had just met. The other little girl watched Bren for a while before asking Kate “ Is your brother spastic?” to which Kate answered “No he is autistic”. The little girl looked at him for a moment before replying “Oh so he draws well” The never spoke of it again. That little girl is still Kate’s and Brendan’s friend. He still watches his brothers play soccer, and we are still waiting for his first masterpiece.