For parents looking after children with autism, the road can be difficult but rewarding.
Primary school teacher Louise Fitzgibbons really struggled to come to terms with her son’s diagnosis.
She shares her story:
Taj Byron Raynard was born on December 27th, 2007. My labour pains started on Christmas eve and it was very long and uncomfortable. He finally came at lunchtime and was a healthy little boy, weighing 8 pounds 12 ounces.
I stayed in the hospital for almost a week due to trouble breastfeeding. Taj just didn't seem to want to feed and pulled his head away from me crying. The nurses told me to persist but, by the last day, I was given a bottle and told to try formula feeding.
Taj cried a lot in that week and I had lots of trouble calming him. I thought this was just me being a first time anxious mother.
The first few weeks were a blur. Taj started waking in the night, screaming for hours on end and there was no way to calm him. After a few visits to the midwives and doctors, who suggested he had a pinched nerve in his neck or colic, I later Googled what might have been night terrors. These night episodes continued for about 3 or 4 years with no real idea of how to deal with them.
I felt something was wrong in those first couple of months when Taj never fell asleep in my arms and was only consolable in a bouncer with a bottle in his mouth.
The years passed and Nigel and I were in love.