By the time, my son Andy was two and half years, he began showing different unusual behaviors such as playing continuously with the same toy for long hours and not showing any care about what was happening around him. Although he seemed okay with family members around him but didn't tolerate any relatives visiting our home. Andy started crying if any new person comes to our home and kept on crying till that person stays at our place. He enjoyed his solitary environment and ignored if anyone tries to communicate with him. From his birth till today, I hardly see him smiling like other children of his age.
Andy also seemed quite slow to me, he didn't obey the given orders, was unable to make eye contact, and did most of the things his way.
Andy got scared of the Tempo sound and had the habit of frequently saying the word 'mummy' while else, he spoke very less and very limited words and mostly was unable to complete his sentences. He also frequently got very impatient, had tantrums, started throwing his toys and things, pulled clothes, and beat everyone he saw. With time, I and my husband felt it very difficult to convince him for cutting his hair and also had a hard time and almost failed to washroom train him and he used to do it anywhere. When I observed all these things, I got the feeling that there must be something wrong with Andy and recognized that my child had some problems.
To make the sense of the observed symptoms, I consulted close family members, looked up on the internet, and found that the symptoms somewhat matched infantile autism. I got a consultation from the doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Really, it was very tough to look after my child because he was not able to perform daily activities. I had to devote my every second to him. My routine was to wake up early in the morning to finish most of my household tasks before Andy woke up as with Andy it was almost impossible to engage in something else. I hardly had sound sleep at night and felt extreme physical and mental exhaustion.
I used to get very upset, shout and beat him upon seeing his irritating behaviors like tearing pillow covers and bed sheets, playing with soap and surf, beating his sister, and eating whatever he found. I also sometimes locked myself in the room and cried.
Andy's sister was too young at that time to understand his brother's condition and Andy also had no sense of how to love and care for his sister. They used to fight for small things and I had to spend much of my time pampering Andy. I was unable to give much time to my daughter and neglected her which also made me feel bad.
I was extremely affected by Andy’s condition and had no life of my own left as I had to look after him every single moment. I started avoiding parties as hearing people's opinions about my child and also dealing with Andy there is quite hard. If ever I took him with me, he would behave improperly and throw food, beat people, or pull clothes. This was still an embarrassment for me and I had to look after him like a guard. Leaving him alone at home was also not possible for me, so I became almost socially isolated. I left my job to give him full-time care but it also made me further worried about the financial burden and the fear of the expected huge chunk of money needed for my son's treatment and therapies.
I sometimes got extremely stressed about Andy’s future as he can't speak well. Thoughts like how he will express himself about different aspects of his life in future, and how he will live with others and perform his tasks on his own when I am not around overwhelmed me. This disturbed me a lot as I may not be always by his side. I continuously think for hours and hours that one day I will die, and how would he live.
Initially, when it was confirmed that Andy is autistic, I refused to accept it. Many thoughts came into my mind and I was continuously hoping and searching for other reasons that are causing my son to behave differently but was not ready to accept the fact and declare him autistic. I insisted the doctor for further investigation to seek out the true reason for my child's condition. But what can be done, reality can't be denied no matter what we do. It was a very depressing time for me. Every time I went to any social gathering, people there used to ask me about Andy's health, although it may be their sympathy for me but it made me more depressed thinking that my son is not fine and suffering from a terrible condition that is hard to deal with.
Some people I encountered obviously had no mercy at all and are too blunt to say that the condition of my child is because of me. They didn’t understand what my son and I are going through and blamed that my unnecessary pampering and wrong parenting resulted in making him disobedient. Some even claimed that it was because of my dietary negligence during pregnancy. What can I do then, hearing all this made me sad.
Now, as per the doctor's advice, Andy's speech therapy has started, and also Andy is getting training that includes behavior modification activities, play therapy, physical activities, and regular classes teaching him about different early learning aspects like recognizing body parts, weather, fruits, animals, colors, matching, sorting, washing hands, toileting, brushing and spending time with friends. I admitted him to the daycare center and I am now free during the day to do my tasks without getting exhausted and also have time to give to my daughter. I observed several positive outcomes in Andy with therapy and some of his bad habits are also slowly fading away. I have a strong belief in the betterment of my child and hope to see him well soon.
I also got training and now occasionally attend programs related to autism. I modified my parenting style according to my autistic child and adopted some coping strategies. I am now more aware of the caring and handling techniques to deal with Andy well and better treat and teach him. I have become more patient with him, and now I understand that Andy doesn't know what is right and what is wrong and it is my duty to handle him politely and teach him with extra care. I don't beat Andy anymore rather practice self-control and foster positive thoughts that helped me deal with him in the best possible way. I am moving on and positivism makes me feel that I can do something good for my child. This urge to do good has now become the main goal of my life.
Now I believe that my autistic son Andy is a gift from God and the outcome of this gift totally depends on how well I decorate him. If I succeed to decorate him in a good manner, I will get a good outcome otherwise the outcome will be poor.
Previously I thought of infantile autism as something mysterious and complex related to mental retardation and speech problems but now I am well aware of it. And with the aim of helping autistic children and their mothers, I am even thinking to collaborate with such mothers and initiate a care center that not only teach autistic children some activities related to daily living but also help the mothers deal with their autistic child in the best possible way and keep themselves relaxed too.