"It's the little things that count"... Something that a lot of parents in my position say. When your child is diagnosed with autism, you constantly research the disorder. The do's and the don'ts, the yes' and the maybe's, and you vividly find yourself dreaming of what your child will be like in 5, 10, 20 years time. I was told to prepare myself for the fact that my son may never speak. I was also told that his autism is severe. I knew as soon as I learnt more about autism, after my mother approached me suspecting my son was on the spectrum, that he was what I call 'textbook autistic'. All the symptoms that you read on every Google page after you type in the word 'autism', my son had them.

So when diagnosis time came I was ok with accepting the decision, I just wasn't ready to hear 'may never speak' and 'severe'. As time went on I just continued to battle through and reach out for the best support for my son. Family Fund was a great help, as they provided my son with an iPad which helped him learn so much such as his ABCs and his 123s (we found this out through using a picture communication system called PECS). An iPad was something way out of my budget, so this was a massive help for both me and Bowie.

Time went on.

Then the month of October, 2015 came, and it was my son's Harvest Festival assembly.

Myself and my sister sat in the audience eager for the kids to enter the hall. My son's class was the last to enter, being the reception class they sat at the front of the stage. I could see him scouring the audience trying to find me, so I was waving like a mad woman trying to get his attention. Then, at that precise point, he looked me straight in the eye as I was sitting in the fourth row from the front, pointed and said “Mum!”

Well, all I can say is I cried like a baby, I checked everyone else heard what I just did so I could confirm I wasn't going mad, then I watched him say it over and over. Like it was nothing. “Mum, mum, mum!” he even tried to get to the audience so he could come and sit with me. This did lead onto a meltdown as he couldn't understand why he couldn't come and sit with me but to be honest I was just overwhelmed with joy that I had heard my son say his first word. This special moment got the ball rolling.

Bowie (my son) is four years old, he spoke his first word at four years old, and he can now put together four word sentences. He uses his words when he wants to say hello, goodbye, or if he wants something. We call this functional language. But he also has echolalia, a speech condition that comes alongside autism which means he will repeat a lot of what I say without understanding what he's saying. He will also repeat phrases from the television, YouTube and books. He uses an iPad in school with a fantastic speech app programmed in which helps him build his vocabulary and his sentences. His school is a phenomenal school and his class teachers and TAs are worth their weight in gold. So thanks to all of this combined, Bowie now communicates with me. The little boy they said may never speak.

I understand there are parents who have bad days sometimes and will throw out the comment 'I wish the kids would give me 5 minutes peace!'... But I waited 4 years to hear my son's voice, and I know many others who are still waiting, and it is the most precious gift I could ever have received. Words might not mean much to some, but they mean everything to an autism parent.

One little word ‘mum’ changed my son's life. One little three letter word. As I said at the beginning of this blog, "It's the little things that count".

 

Fay is an autism parent to son Bowie, 4 years old. She is an avid campaigner/activist for autism awareness and has her own foundation 'Awareness For Autism' which raises awareness to the general public and gives support to families living with the disorder. Through her campaigning and awareness Fay was nominated for 'Most Inspirational Volunteer of The Year' award at The NAS's 2016 'Autism Professional Awards'.