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Tiny Tyger, Baby Bear and Me: Look into My Eyes

Sunday 16 August 2015

Look into My Eyes

So, this is part two of my updates.  This time I'm covering Tyger (because I mention him sooo rarely...).


Tyger had an appointment with a speech and language therapist as part of the diagnostic process recently.  It went pretty well.  She was lovely and told me she 'could see what I see' (i.e. Autism).  She gushed about Tyger quite a bit and about his vocabulary and language skills and said she'd love to work with a child like Tyger.  I suppose there's a chance she does this with every child and parent to put them at ease and get them on side but I - of course - believe Tyger is a child genius so I'm sure she was genuine.

Pretty much the first thing to come up was my old friend 'eye contact'.  Until we saw the paediatrician back in April, every health care professional with whom I brought up ASD trotted out the familiar line of, 'Hmm...well he makes good eye contact...'  This meant it came as surprise to me when the paediatrician mentioned a lack of eye contact in her report.  The speech and language therapist (or 'SALT') picked up on the fact it took Tyger a looong time after entering the room to actually look at her face.  And whilst he did give eye contact after that, it was sporadic and fleeting.  I think of it like trying to force two magnets of the same polarity together.  He'll look but his gaze swings away pretty quickly and it's an effort.  I never thought about how much of an effort until I was trying to cut his fringe the other day (for any non-Brits reading this 'fringe' is what we call 'bangs').

Now, I've cut Tyger's fringe many times and it has always been a struggle.  He won't stay still and trying to get him to look at me so I can make sure it's at least vaguely straight (I think it's unrealistic to aim for poker straight and completely horizontal but I do try to avoid the stairs or ramp across the forehead look as if someone might need access from his ear on one side to his scalp on the other).  It just so happened, whilst I wielded hairdressing scissors and promised a biscuit when we were done, my parents were having a look at the SALT report.  So, I was going through everything the SALT had mentioned at the same time I finally managed to get Tyger to look at my forehead for maybe 15 seconds (it doesn't sound like much but sit and count out 15 seconds - that's a looong time for a three year old to sit still) and suddenly he looked shattered. Honestly, his eyelids drooped, his face went slack and I thought for a moment he might fall asleep there and then.  The revelation hit me: looking at people's faces and especially eye contact are physically draining for him.  I knew it was 'hard' but that's quite an abstract concept and I'd sort of assumed it was hard in the same way it's 'hard' for me to not eat Peanut M&Ms if they're just sitting there.  Realising it actually tired him out was a bit of an 'ah ha' moment (and made me feel a little guilty).

Come the end of the appointment she reassured me she 'saw what I saw' (i.e. ASD)., although said it was 'subtle'.  He'd give a doll a drink (with prompting) but was concerned there wasn't any milk in the cup.  He'd bath the doll (with more prompting and Tyger making excuses about being too busy) but was perturbed by the fact the doll's shoes wouldn't come off (they were painted on).  She thought it was interesting, since Tyger is so advanced with his language and vocabulary, to note the aspects of his language that are not advanced.  Namely, anything social.  He comes out with all sorts of adult sounding language and phrases but still uses 'he', 'she' and 'that' interchangeably.  I didn't disagree with her but Tyger's ASD is not so subtle when he screams for 20 minutes to the point where he makes himself throw up because I mentioned the guy who cut my parents' hedge is on holiday.

The next hospital appointment he had was about a cyst under his eye, which just won't fracking go away.  It's been there for months and is as persistent as Baby Bear when he's decided he wants some chocolate buttons (though, the cyst doesn't keep pointing to the basket with chocolate in and going, 'Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh,' before crying and crying when I say 'no' then starting all over again - the cyst is just...there).  I hate these appointments because you're triaged as you come in so we tend to end up waiting about an hour before seeing a doctor.  And there are no toys in the waiting room.  And no hot drinks allowed.  And now Bear won't sit nicely in his buggy for the duration so there are TWO of them running around wreaking havoc.

However, Bear running around and wreaking havoc turned out to be a big bonus this time because he was kind enough to trip and sort of smack his forehead off the floor.  He screamed.  I mean, he really SCREAMED.  And he just kept on and on.  Doctors and nurses were trying to call patients in for their appointments but nobody could hear what they were saying.  It would have been horrible...if it wasn't for the fact it got us bumped to the top of the list!  Hooray for Baby Bear!  I am tempted to stick a foot out as Bear runs past at the next appointment...

Anyway, the doctor we saw after Bear's spectacular fall was fine...except he mentioned the hair.  I wrote at length about Tyger's long hair in my blog post Yes, I Bought My Son a Dress.  His hair's even longer now and the comments and confusion have in no way decreased.  The doctor just couldn't seem to help himself.

'I called you in and I was so confused.  I checked the notes here and it definitely said he's a boy.  I thought, 'What's going on here, then!?''

What is going on here?  More Goram sexist bullshit!  I am just astounded a doctor who must see hundreds of patients a week is so utterly baffled by a boy with long hair.  My hair is green at the moment, by the way.  Bright green.  I have not had a single comment from any stranger about my hair.  It is obviously in no way noteworthy (or they realise how rude it is to comment on a stranger's appearance when that stranger is an adult...) but a three year old boy with long hair??  That warrants comments pretty much every time we go out (which, granted, is not often).

There you go.  You can judge for yourself.

Then there was the most recent hospital appointment (seriously, the last two weeks have seen an inordinate number of trips to the hospital, which would be less of an inconvenience if Tyger didn't get car sickness...).  This one was the last assessment for Tyger before his diagnosis and was with a child psychologist.  I was expecting a similar drill to the last two appointments concerning Tyger's diagnosis (questions directed to me about how he behaves in various situations and some play with Tyger whilst observing him).  That's not what happened.  She informed me, as far as she was concerned, she should be there to help with behaviour and asked how she could help.

I was a little taken aback (where were the questions about how he interacted with people and how his diet is and what his interests are and how he reacts to change?...where were the questions for Tyger and getting him to perform certain tasks?).  I put forward some of the problems we're been having and pretty much everything I mentioned was met with, 'Well, all three-year-olds do that...'  I started to panic.  Did she think I was overreacting?  Did she think I'm just a terrible parent who struggles to cope with perfectly 'normal' preschooler behaviour?

This child pyschologist was the one who diagnosed my sister.  My mumcame out of that appointment completely nonplussed.  She didn't know whether my sister had been diagnosed, she didn't really have any idea what had happened.

The child psychologist openly says she suspects herself of being on the spectrum.  I think, perhaps, she doesn't see the point in telling parents their child has ASD when it was the parents who brought it up in the first place.

Whatever the reason, I was unnerved until we were leaving and she explained she'd tell the paediatrician her recommendation was an Asperger's diagnosis.

Then quickly ushered us out of the door!

Now it's a case of waiting...but I'm hopeful.

Linked with:

My Random Musings

Stopping at two

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At 16 August 2015 at 21:16 , Blogger Kristen said...

I was going to say from everything I read that your son had Asperger's disorder. I am glad to see that her recommendation is the same. I work as a case manager for individuals with intellectual disabilities and have seen great things that happen with kids who are diagnosed early enough. Hopefully this will help you figure out where to go so you can get the help you need. I am visiting you from #AnythingGoes


At 16 August 2015 at 23:32 , Blogger Unknown said...

It's so hard needing support and information but having to go through the process. We're lucky in that our son has Down Syndrome, everyone knows he has it and systems are in place etc but if you as a Mum know your child needs support, but your child doesn't have an obvious diagnosis by looking at them, it's so much harder! I wish you and your gorgeous boy a quick journey to get the most helpful support you can!

At 16 August 2015 at 23:57 , Blogger Unknown said...

On the lighter side, I can totally relate when kids create havoc while waiting for a docs appointment, my two kids won't sit nicely too for even 5 mins, let alone an hour. Kids are kids, they are naturally lively... I'm so paranoid before about their behavior in public but not anymore now. Hope everything goes well with your little boy! I love his long hair though, How I wish I have that long straight hair. #AnythingGoes

At 16 August 2015 at 23:58 , Blogger Lady Nym said...

Asperger's Syndrome is being phased out as a diagnosis so I wasn't sure if they'd go for that or for the more generic 'ASD' diagnosis. I guess I'll find out for sure within the next couple of months. Thanks for reading.

At 17 August 2015 at 00:20 , Blogger Lady Nym said...

I do wonder if he'd be treated differently if his ASD was visible in some way. So far, we've been pretty luck. Many areas in the UK won't even consider diagnosing this young so the fact they're even listening to me is positive. Plus, the preschool he'll be going to after summer have been amazingly proactive and understanding.

Thanks for reading and I'm glad your boy gets the support he needs.

At 17 August 2015 at 00:22 , Blogger Lady Nym said...

I dread having to sit in waiting rooms with them! But people are mostly understanding. I'm also jealous of Tyger's hair. Mine used to be straight like that but is more of a wavy mess these days. Thanks for reading.

At 17 August 2015 at 00:32 , Blogger Unknown said...

Good luck. I hope you're able to get the support your family needs


At 17 August 2015 at 12:54 , Blogger Alison said...

This was a fascinating read. My daughter got her diagnosis September last year, but she doesn't talk, so not exactly a surprise (although it was to me at the time). I certainly don't miss getting asked the same questions over and over and over again.

'Well, all three-year-olds do that...' -- wow, I bet that was annoying. It's true, but it's also unhelpful. A lot of NT children spin around or are fussy eaters or love being active, and these were all signs that my daughter had ASD.

At least it looks like you're moving towards a diagnosis. I wish you and your sons all the best, and your son's hair is beautiful by the way. ;) #SundayStars

At 17 August 2015 at 23:50 , Blogger Lady Nym said...

Thank you.

At 18 August 2015 at 00:25 , Blogger Lady Nym said...

Thank you. It has been annoying fending off all the 'all three-year-olds...' stuff and I keep having to explain over and over that it's not necessarily *what* he does but the extent or how often he does it.

I'm glad your daughter has a diagnosis. It just makes accessing support that little bit easier. I think we're almost there!

At 20 August 2015 at 00:25 , Blogger K Whitlock said...

I think we are so lucky nowadays that with people like you writing about their experiences with ASD - very reassuring to follow other people's stories if you are in a similar situation. This must be a help to so many parents.
Thanks for sharing on #SundayStars
Karen (http://www.stoppingattwo.co.uk)

At 21 August 2015 at 08:01 , Blogger Lady Nym said...

Thank you. I'd love to think I can give reassurance to someone.

At 22 August 2015 at 07:08 , Blogger Random Musings said...

Sounds like you're making some progress. I hope you manage to get a diagnosis. It's hard to know how to react to certain behaviours if you are still unsure of the cause. And for the record, I think Tyger's hair is beautiful :)
Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes

At 22 August 2015 at 11:09 , Blogger Lady Nym said...

We're getting there. Thank you; we certainly like it!


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