It’s been more than five years since my daughter, Abigail, was first diagnosed with autism. For my son, Arthur, he received his diagnosis in December last year.
Abigail is non-verbal and has the developmental age of a two-year-old despite being seven.
She’s quite reclusive but can often be found jumping around and screaming happily while clutching a Peppa Pig toy. In public, she gets up close to strangers and has no concept of personal space or stranger danger.
What life is like with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Post continues after video.
My son, Arthur, on the other hand, is four and still uses a dummy.
While it’s an impediment to his speech, it’s a sensory item that he needs. If you take the dummy away, he has violent meltdowns where he’ll punch and kick the person nearest to him, usually me.
We go out regularly as a family, but the behaviours of Abigail and Arthur mean people often stare with judgemental looks. Strangers don’t see their behaviours as symptoms of autism, they just see two misbehaved kids.
I am constantly amazed and inspired by the challenges they both overcome every day, but life in public can be very draining at times when those around you don’t see what you see.
Life prior to Abigail’s diagnosis was very different. My husband worked full-time while I studied part-time and we had plans to go travelling and have more children in the future. At that stage, Abigail was just like every other child her age, meeting all her developmental milestones.