Finding some answers
Thank the heavenly Lord above for the wonderful gift of.... the internet!
I wasn't much of a net junkie before Bright Eyes' diagnosis, but now it's my first port of call for everything.
It only took a couple of weeks before I realised that Bright Eyes' treatment was going to be something I would have to handle myself.
I decided to do what the doctor had told me, so first off I rang the Autism Association, who were not particularly friendly, nor particularly keen to help me through what I should do next.
After that I went for the speech therapy. We went to some lovely sessions with a very sweet young lady who showed me how to do things like pictures and sign language and choice boards. "Show him a picture of the red t-shirt and the blue t-shirt and let him choose which one he wants," she said. It was too bad that he ran away screaming if presented with a choice. Besides, the thought of taking photographs of everything in his life, laminating and velcro-ing them, getting the right ones out at the right time, and then trying to stop him chewing and bending them just made me exhausted. I decided I'd come back to speech therapy.
In the midst of all of this, I went for a second opinion, on the urging of my father in law. The second paediatrician was a lovely lady who agreed wholeheartedly with the first paediatrician, adding this memorable phrase: "Well, he's got atrocious social skills,"* but, for another $200 or so, no additional advice on what to do to manage him, except to go to a psychologist specialising in ASD.
"He's really good at practical solutions for challenging behaviour," she said.
So with hope in my heart, I drove 75 minutes across the city for a two hour session. This turned out to be him talking at me for three quarters of the time, telling me all about autism and what autistic children typically do. But I had already done the research! I knew all of that. I wanted answers for my particular problems with my child.
His ineffectiveness** was proven to me when I went to leave with Bright Eyes (whom he had briefly looked at for about two minutes, and who then watched videos in his office for the two hours). But Bright Eyes found some steps and wouldn't get off them. He started to scream loudly and refused to come with me. After about 10 minutes of me trying hopelessly to get him to move, with the psychologist looking on, offering no help, I started to sing, "Let's walk together, let's walk together," whereupon Bright Eyes took my hand and came calmly with me to the car.
It was a depressing moment. I realised that I would have to be the one who found the answers and judged the treatments. I would have to go looking for real help that would actually work.
And so I turned to the net, obsessively reading any site I could call up that could give me some hints on the causes and the solutions for autism and ASD.
*I am being a little unfair perhaps... she said plenty more good things, but that comment was indelibly imprinted on my brain! It's true - he showed lots of atrocity in her office, but it's not what a loving, optimistic mother wants to hear unfortunately.
**I should add that this psychologist showed himself to be a man of great principle when he refused to accept my payment for his session because I wrote expressing my dissatisfaction with him.