Resources / Family Stories

Our Journey Towards A Diagnosis…

Our son is a bright, fun, friendly 6 year old boy. He’s verbal, affectionate and playful… quite frankly, if we didn’t tell you, you’d never know that he has a dual diagnosis of Autism & ADHD. This is the story of our journey through the realization and acceptance that our son is, was, and always will be exceptional.

How did you know?

Honestly? We didn’t.

We had met other children with Autism before and never in a million years did we think that the behavioural signals our son was giving us meant anything more than an epic failure of us as parents (boy, were we wrong). With our then very limited understanding, we thought Autism meant non-verbal, hand flapping, grunting and a visual outward appearance that would indicate that something was “wrong”.

Our son seemed angry & emotional (going from tears one minute to colossal meltdowns the next). He was defiant, rigid, and attention seeking to the point where we couldn’t speak to each other without being abruptly interrupted by him literally jumping on or in between us.

It was our daycare provider who approached us with some concerning signals and recommended we see a pediatrician.
Going to a doctor and having to admit that you basically have NO idea what you’re doing wrong is very difficult as a parent to do but, we did it, and we were referred for service.

What were the signs?

Once we were in service, we started realizing that a lot of the things we just assumed were “quirks” could actually be indicators of Autism &/or ADHD when they happened all together and with the intensity they did;

  • Lining up toys
  • Rigidity in all things (especially schedules)
  • Difficulty with sensory input (loud noises, textures, tastes)
  • Crash Play (Always slamming into something, spinning)
  • A VERY limited, carbohydrate heavy, diet
  • Walking on tip toes
  • Difficulty expressing himself (expressive language)
  • Difficulty understanding what we were saying (receptive language)
  • Echoing phrases, words, sounds, accents (anything he hears, he mimics)
  • A severe lack of empathy or ability to “read” people/situations
  • Attention seeking behaviours
  • Playing NEAR but not WITH other kids (at age 4-5-6)
  • An inability to handle more than 1-2 minutes of seated activity
With those indicators identified, what did you do next?

Well, we went through the motions in early service and learned SO much about Autism, the spectrum, what it all means and how it would affect our lives going forward. We were referred for formal assessment but it was identified that our son needed treatment right away so, while we waited for our assessment date, we started utilizing the York Region Preschool Speech & Language Program. It was there that our son began to develop his language & comprehension beyond our wildest dreams and we were given the knowledge to help continue his progress at home. The assistance we gained through YRPSLP laid a solid foundation of a lifetime of learning ahead.

What does life look like now?

Our son is now in mainstream school and thriving well in Senior Kindergarten. When he has good days they are REALLY good and when he has bad days, they are REALLY bad. We have strategies in place that help us navigate day to day life and we continue to update/change those strategies as he grows and changes. We spend lots of time in treatment & therapy to adjust to our ever changing dynamic and we know we still have a long road ahead. We realize now that we will never know all there is to know about Autism but, we can confidently say that we are experts when it comes to our kid.

What would you say to a family just starting this path?

I would tell any new family this:
“You are not alone and none of this is your fault. It’s a hard road but when you finally have that breakthrough no matter how big or small, it’s worth every sleepless night, every tear, every doubt you’ve ever had. To see them succeed will fill you with an unbelievable sense of joy and accomplishment that you will carry with you always. These remarkable little people will teach you more about love, patience, acceptance and what’s important than you ever thought possible.”

– Brooke C.