What I did next

The helpfulness of the paediatrician's suggestions were limited, so I began branching out and finding more resources via the net.

Some things I looked into:

1. The Hanen speech pathology program - 'More than Words'
This is a course you can do which implements some good speech pathology practices into your everyday life. We got the book which is thick, but full of cute illustrations and read it through. It helped us to understand what Bright Eyes was doing with his language.

2. The Handle program
This is a program started by an American woman who grew up autistic and challenged in lots of sensory areas. It mostly focuses on gently balancing the body's sensory intake. I got the book and my eyes were opened to the challenges autistic children face just by being awake and alive! Things like being oversensitive to movement, sounds, smells and textures. If their sensory systems are so out of whack, it's no wonder they are highly strung and develop self-protective odd behaviours. If we had a few more thousand dollars, and if Bright Eyes was more severely challenged in this area, I'd be doing this program.

3. Early intervention local groups
There are a number of early intervention services for children with special needs funded by the Australian government around. Most of these have a waiting list and the one I found was no exception. However, they did have an 'open playgroup' meeting weekly a few suburbs away. I decided I should try it, so ventured in gingerly one Thursday morning.

It was a stretching experience. By going in and meeting other mums with children that were struggling I felt like I had suddenly joined a very depressing secret club. And the worst thing was: my child was not the 'best' one there. I had hoped that it would be a group that I could say, "Well, I don't really need to come to this. Look, all these other children are much worse off than Bright Eyes."

True, I could look around and see kids who had more obvious problems than his, but by and large, he fitted in quite well. I had to get used to saying to myself: "I have a child who has special needs." It doesn't roll off the tongue easily.

The best thing about this group was that I made a friend - with an ASD child just the same age as Bright Eyes. As time went on, we both quit the group but we have stayed in contact as support for each other.