HOW DID YOU REALIZE THAT YOUR CHILD HAS AUTISM?
Initially, I didn’t know my little boy was autistic but I knew he was highly active. Interestingly, I saw his activeness as childhood recalcitrance so I was not so bothered. Since he was the only child at home, there were no other kids to play with.However, when we moved to our new location, he had the opportunity to mingle with his cousins because this time, they were closer to him
One day,my sister commented that he was hyperactive and was not sociable to his cousins. An experienced old woman said it was a sign of independence which was necessary to life. At two years, he was not even babbling to even say, ‘mama’. I was worried but the family history showed that one child experience and started speaking at between the ages of three and four. The story started to change when I sent him to school and his teacher made an observation.The teacher observed that he was
- Not participating in class activities like rhyme recitation
- Not playing with other pupils
Based on the observation, she advised we should visit a dentist. I did not argue with her because I realized my second born was interactive,cried for long and communicated at an early stage. So I took him to the dentist only for him to be diagnosed as tongue-tied. To make him to speak clearly, they had to do a laser treatment and he could now babble and pull his tongue out. The dentist also directed us to another doctor in a referral hospital who asked that we do electroencephalogram. During the diagnosis, the doctor asked whether he usually had seizures and I said No because I was certain he never had that. A team of medical practitioners had to visit home at his sleeping time because they needed to do the test at a time he was asleep but he was not asleep when they came. He was given a sedative and he was still not sleeping. We managed to get him to sleep for the test to be conducted. Unfortunately, the result proved that he was having silent seizures in the mind.That was shocking to me because I never knew there was anything like ‘silent seizures’ I thought all seizures are obvious. This doctor also referred us to an audiologist and a speech therapist for an assessment. It was stressful because we usually had to join a long queue for a day or two just to see the specialist.
And the test proved that he was autistic. It was then I remembered that he often used to have severe headaches and very high temperatures when he was a baby. Anytime I complained to the doctor, he used to tell me it’s normal.He also asked questions like ,’Do you expect your child to be cold blooded?’ We are human beings, high temperatures are normal. Even when I complained of hyperactiveness,the doctor said it was normal.
HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN THE DOCTOR TOLD YOU HE WAS AUTISTIC?
I was shocked and downhearted because he was my first child. I was eating well during pregnancy and reading a lot, ‘so what could have caused this autism?’ I asked myself.Even though I did not know much about autism, I heard about it and thought it was far from me.
ARE YOU STILL SHOCKED AND PERTURBED?
HOW DID YOU OVERCOME YOUR SHOCK AND DOWNHEARTEDNESS?
I never liked the fact that I was regarded as a special mother but I learnt my lessons from there.Usually when mothers meet in the hospital while waiting to see the doctor, they share their stories. And I realized that my little boy’s case was far better than others so I consciously had to learn to stop worrying and rather pray that God changes everyone’s situation. We were introduced to an Autism Awareness and support group which helped a lot. However,I still get frustrated especially anytime I return from town and my room is scattered or ransacked by him. But I’m over it now.
HOW DO PEOPLE RELATE TO HIM?
Sometimes they make offensive comments and complain that the child is problematic and has not been brought up well. But I tell them that he has a special need and that keeps them mute.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YET-TO-BE MOTHERS?
First of all,they should take records- have a book and take records of the babies developmental records.They should further get maternal assistance from others especially when they have a lot of toddlers.They should not self medicate when pregnant. And also try as much as possible to stay away from all forms of medicines,even when the medicine is prescribed, they should read a lot about the medicine before taking it.
A mother of an three and enterprenuer