Hello there, my name is Jocelyn. I have two sons who are both autistic and in special needs schools. My youngest has other conditions also which apparently give him “complex” needs.

See there I go already quoting the diagnosis given for my boys!!

Personally I find having a diagnosis so incredibly useful. It cuts out me blustering around trying to explain why they are behaving in a certain way or need allowances to be made. It’s become almost as natural as stating their ages and I tend to add it on in any introduction. But writing this has made me think I should hold back on it sometimes, but I’m not embarrassed of their problems. I think their conditions make them unique and interesting and give them an innocence that is breath-taking (I’m saying this on a good day but is not always my description I can promise you!).

The diagnosis process was very long and confusing for both of my children. It was some years ago now and I don’t know how much has changed. There were so, so many appointments and reports; mostly I had no explanation of the purpose of a lot of them which was unsettling. I do remember the worst thing was reading the report from my youngest boy’s nursery - despite having a member of staff practically 1:1 with him and constantly on their laps; he had violent outbursts and bit others. He was still in nappies and had so many other issues; they declared in the report that he was “fine” and had no problems whatsoever.

I understand in retrospect that they didn’t want to appear as unable to cope as a pre-school or that they were failing but this in itself I felt failed us. It’s an awful feeling when you feel you have to insist your child is much worse than they are saying, as though it’s something you are wanting, but the brutal truth is that it is this fact that gets you the adequate help along the line.

It became obvious that this wasn’t the case when he attended his first hour long trial session at pre-school; he had a terrible time, a violent meltdown, and had to be collected. The amazing SENCO at school immediately stated that they couldn’t accept him attending without 1:1 support and from then on her support and other professionals proved how far from the truth the nursery had been, he now attends a special needs school.

Saying all this feels quite negative but this is very much in the past for me now and I would say to anyone going through it to carry on and take one day at a time. Get support and help from support agencies or groups as much as possible as for me a diagnosis has unlocked many doors to gain different help/services/understanding along the way.