Unofficial diagnosis

In the three months between making the paediatrician's appointment and getting to it, I found out what Bright Eyes' problem really was.

And the person who told me was a preschool teacher - over the telephone.

My husband had just been offered a job in Mittagong, starting in the new year. With experience in booking children into preschool, I thought I should do something about putting Bright Eyes in once we got there.

So I rang the local community preschool.

"I'd like to book my three year old in for next year. But I think he's going to need some special care - he's a little bit eccentric," I told the director.

"Eccentric? What does he do?" she asked me.

"He yells a lot. His speech is delayed. He only really speaks in 'slogans' or scripts. He has a lot of trouble transitioning from activity to activity and he is obsessed with trains. He really only likes to play by himself," I said. "He's seeing a paediatrician soon just to check there's nothing really wrong."

"I don't want to be rude," she said, "but I think he might have an autistic spectrum disorder."

I can still feel the flump of my stomach turning over as she said it. It was a complete shock. In one conversation my son had gone from being a 'bit eccentric' to having a serious diagnosible condition.*

For a few weeks I thought it wasn't true. I started looking it up on the net and found various pages which kind of described Bright Eyes, but not really.

However, in the course of the next three weeks, a much respected friend with experience with small children and a child psychologist said the same thing to me. In three weeks, I had three unofficial diagnoses - all for the same condition.

I looked into it further and by about the sixth week, I was sure that we were waiting for a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder.

*By the way, I think the preschool teacher said the right thing. I was never angry with her for saying it, rather I was grateful (a little later on). She has shown absolute goodness, kindness and professional zeal in all of her dealings with us and I couldn't be happier that she is his teacher this year.